ANDHRA PRADESH

Bt cotton an official writeoff

NALGONDA JAN.25. Belying the claims of the Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (India), Agriculture Department officials have made it clear that Bt cotton is a disappointment in the district. They have informed the same to the State Government in a special report.

At a meeting at the Joint Director's office here on Saturday, Divisional Assistant Directors of the department said that the cotton variety had failed to yield desired results. Interestingly, some of them felt that other hybrid varieties fared well than the Bt seed.

Taking to The Hindu, the JD, M. Laxman Rao, said: "The seed did not have the impact as it was propagated. It has failed to show good results in the yield as well as in pest control.''

As many as 359 farmers of the district opted for the controversial cotton variety to wipe out the debts at one go but the reality has proved disastrous. In all, the seed was sown on nearly 250 acres mainly in Halia, Kodad and Suryapet divisions, according to officials.

The Mahyco allocated 600 packets of MECH-162 variety to the district out of which 140 were sold in Nakrekal and each 30 in Kodad and Nalgonda.

In tune with an order of the Commissioner and Director of Agriculture, the ADAs prepared a report with farmer-wise details on the performance of the Bt cotton and submitted it to the JD's office.

Summing up the report, the JD said that the feedback was not encouraging. When asked if it was due to drought, he said that other local varieties fared well in similar conditions. Surprisingly, some of the ADAs had reportedly observed high pest incidence in the Bollguard seed than in other varieties.

``Going by the hi-pitch propaganda, the Bt seed should have much resistance but the ground reality is in contrary,'' said another ADA, who has done the leg work and interacted with ryots to know the performance of the Bt seed.

Another ADA, Murali, said that all the varieties had not shown any sign of pest attack in first 90 days but later it was found that the Bt variety too was susceptible to the bollworm. He opined that a thorough research should be done to know the impact of the Bt cotton.

The farmers paid up to Rs.1,600 for a Bt cotton packet that fetches of an acre as against Rs.450 to 500 of normal varieties. However the yield was said to be below or on par, at times, with the local varieties.

The secretary of the district rythu sangham, Bontala Chandra Reddy, who has studied the impact of the drought on farming community, said that it had killing impact on the finances of farmers.

``Farmers were carried away by the high-decibel and hi-tech campaign of the company as well as officials. Now farmers seek to know who pays the heavy loss they incurred,'' he said.