A decision to revive cultivation of indigenous varieties of cotton was taken in a meeting on Monday, headed by Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh.
The meeting was attended by 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.
An Agriculture Ministry official said that though the productivity of native varieties is lower by 10-15 per cent as compared to Bt cotton, but expenditure on pesticides and sprays would be less and farmers can reuse the seeds for sowing the next season.
Prior to the introduction of Bt cotton in 2002, at least 25 per cent of the cotton cultivation area was under indigenous varieties. The efforts would be to regain this lost acreage, the official added.
The ministry has issued directives to 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 use 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.
According to the second advance estimate of the Agriculture Ministry, India's 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. (SH)
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