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Failure of Bt cotton forces govt to promote native seeds

Agriculture Ministry decided to revive cultivation of indigenous varieties of cotton in a meeting yesterday

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Farmers harvest cotton in a field in Nana Viramgam village in Gujarat
Farmers harvest cotton in a field

    Haryana, Punjab may cut Bt cotton sowing

With bollworm developing resistance to crop, the government has decided to promote cultivation of indigenous varieties of the crop in a big way this year.

In 2015-16 crop year (July-June), there was a significant damage to cotton crop because of whitefly and pink bollworm pest attack in states like Haryana, Punjab, Rajashtan, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

Almost 90% of the country's cotton cultivation area is under Bt cotton, which was introduced in 2002.

Read more from our special coverage on "BT COTTON"

A decision to revive cultivation of indigenous varieties of cotton was taken in a meeting yesterday, headed by Agriculture Minister

Senior officials of Agriculture Ministry, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) and seed industry companies were also present in the meeting.

"The issue of pests like pinkbollworm and whitefly developing resistance to crop was discussed at length with all stakeholders yesterday.

To protect farmers, it was decided to popularise cultivation of desi varieties this year," a senior official told PTI.

Though the productivity of native varieties is lower by 10-15% as compared to Bt cotton, but expenditure on pesticides and sprays would be less and can reuse the seeds for next sowing, the official said.

Prior to the introduction of in 2002, at least 25% of the cotton cultivation area was under indigenous varieties.

The efforts would be to regain this lost area, the official added.

Already, the ministry has issued directives to states like Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan to use only recommended native seeds for preventing pest attacks.

These states have also been asked to go for timely sowing of the crop and keep a close watch on the movement of whitefly besides ensuring timely sprinkling of pesticides to check its menace.

Cotton sowing begins this month in Punjab and Haryana which have irrigation, while sowing in the rest of the country will begin with the onset of the next monsoon rains in June.

As per the second advance estimate of the Agriculture Ministry, cotton output is expected to decline to 33.51 million bales in 2015-16 from 35.47 million bales (of 170 kg each) in the year-ago period due to pest attack in some states and poor monsoon.

First Published: Tue, April 05 2016. 17:26 IST