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BCI farmers in India achieve higher yield
16
Nov '15
BCI farmers in India achieved on average an 11 per cent higher yield in comparison to other farmers. They used less pesticide, less synthetic fertiliser and less water for irrigation than other cotton farmers, according to the Better Cotton initiative Harvest Report 2014. Generally, weather conditions were favourable for cotton production, with the exception of some states that experienced dry periods and cyclones resulting in lower yields.

According to the report, BCI farmers used on average 20 per cent less pesticide active ingredient than others. Most cotton-growing regions felt pest pressure from early-season sap sucking pests. Gujarat saw the emergence of the pink boll worm, and the northern regions were challenged by the cotton leaf curl virus, making the application of pesticides necessary. The close collaboration between BCI farmers and agronomists enabled well-informed decision making to respond to these challenges. Biological pest-control measures were also widely practiced among BCI farmers.

BCI farmers used on average 33 per cent less synthetic fertiliser compared to other farmers. This was in part due to improved access to expert advice from agronomists that helped BCI Producer Units to increase efficiency and achieve positive yields while reducing synthetic fertiliser use.

The use of organic fertiliser was 68 per cent higher amongst BCI farmers, the report said. Due to improved awareness of soil health and the benefits of organic matter, BCI Farmers used greater quantities of manure and other organic inputs.

Water use results only include irrigated farms, excluding rain-fed farms from the calculation. States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana in particular were affected by a prolonged dry period during the early season. BCI farmers reported using on average 4 per cent less water for irrigation than others. Although accurate water measurement and monitoring is a challenge in India, BCI's Implementing Partners are working to develop more practical methods, the report said.

BCI farmers reported on average 32 per cent higher profits than other cotton farmers. While input costs (notably labour) continued to rise, using less pesticides and fertilisers to obtain higher average yields allowed BCI farmers to achieve greater profits.

According to the report, 53 per cent of BCI Farmers demonstrated an advanced awareness about child labour, 34 per cent had a basic awareness and 13 per cent (concentrated in a particular region) showed a low awareness.

27 out of 93 Producer Units (29 per cent) in India reported engaging in partnerships to promote access to school for children in cotton-growing areas, the BCI harvest Report 2014 said. (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk - India

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