A noted farm activist has been promoting use of indigenous cotton seeds for its crop cultivation in Maharashtra as against the Bt seeds.
The farmers in remote villages have opted for cultivation using Bt cotton seeds. Ultimately, they have been trapped in huge debts arising out of the unbearable input cost as compared to the output cost, Vasantrao Naik Sethi Swalamban Mission chairman Kishor Tiwari told PTI yesterday.
He said that MNCs have managed to dictate the Indian seed markets and the poor and innocent farmers have been attracted to their hyped promises of high yield, ignoring the high cost of its cultivation and upkeep.
Consequently, the farmers have been trapped in debts which compelled them to commit suicide, a phenomena which started from 2005 onwards, he observed.
"A close look into the market strategy followed by cultivation cost will prove that the Bt cotton is a total failure in rain-fed regions like Vidarbha," Tiwari said, adding that it is high time to promote indigenous seeds of all crops, including cotton.
"It is our experience that indigenous seeds can only suit a rain-fed farm and they (seeds) can only be able to ensure sustained farming in the region," he said.
The Nagpur-based Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) has been trying to achieve high density cotton cultivation in the region so as to say goodbye to the 'fake' multi-national companies, he said.
"To meet this goal, we have started a novel programme of distributing indigenous seeds of cotton, tur and moong to 133 farmers at Aawalgaon village in Maregon tehsil of Yavatmal district recently, aiming to encourage the farmers to produce their own seeds out of the distributed four quintals of seeds free of cost," Tiwari said.
The Aawalgaon pattern would be introduced in the entire state in a phased manner, he further said.
"There shall be a seed bank in each village and needy farmers would be given the seeds from it," he said.
The tribal-dominated Aawalgaon village is situated over 80 kms away from Yavatmal city where 80 per cent of the villagers belong to the Kolam community.
"To save the Kolam tribals, we have set up a seed bank and free seeds are being distributed to them for the ongoing kharif sowing," Tiwari further said.
"Our special attention is that the farmers should be encouraged to produce their own seeds and they should cultivate the seeds with less production cost so that the earning would be more to meet their financial requirements," he said.