The Gujarat Government has decided to stop procuring double-cross hybrid maize seed made by seed major Monsanto, which were distributed among the farmers in the tribal areas of the state under the tribal a development scheme.
The seeds sold under the brand name 'prabal' were being distributed to farmers in the tribal regions under the Sunshine Project, which falls under the Vanbandhu Kalyan Yogna, since 2008. It is estimated that the seeds were distributed among half a million farmers by the Tribal Development Department.
"The decision was taken during the Cabinet meeting of the state government held yesterday," Gujarat agriculture minister Dilip Sanghani told Business Standard.
"We have decided not to procure Monsanto seeds which were distributed among the farmers of tribal area. Instead, the farmers would be asked to buy government approved seeds of their own choice for which the government would provide financial support," Sanghani said.
This has been done to break the monopoly of Monsanto company in the state, he added.
The state government's decision follows several representation by the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) and some MLAs from the tribal areas. In last session of state assembly in March, Congress MLAs including deputy leader of Congress in the house Mohansinh Rathava and senior MLA Bachubhai Kishori had demanded ban on maize seeds of Monsanto, claiming that there were ill-effects of Monsanto’s maize seeds which were being distributed by the state government in tribal areas.
Also, during the assembly session last month Minister for Tribal Development Mangu Patel had said that the government had sought opinion of Anand and Navsari agriculture universities on the issue side, effects of using Monsanto's maize seeds, before taking further action.
BKS Gujarat president Magan Patel said that they have demanded complete ban on all seed of Monsanto in Gujarat.
"We have demanded that no seed of Monsanto be sold in Gujarat. Also, we have asked the government to stop any kind of field trial on genetically modified food crops being done in couple of agriculture universities of the Gujarat," Patel said.
“We have received no such information from Government of Gujarat," Monsanto spokesperson said, adding, ''Monsanto’s Prabal maize hybrid seeds have been thoroughly tested in the state at the Anand Agriculture University, Anand for more than three years and has consistently performed year on year, both in the university and on the fields of the four lakh maize farmers who continue to plant the seeds in both rainfed and irrigated conditions over the last four years."