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'Bt cotton is not a cure-all formula for success' - experts
Jun '11
In Pakistan, the main problem facing cotton cultivators is the leaf curl virus. It is due to this virus that the final yield of the cotton crop gets reduced by 3-4 million bales per year.

At present, there is no treatment available to destroy this virus which has been pestering all currently grown varieties of cotton, including the Monsanto Bt cotton variety.

In order to effectively check the menace, both seed suppliers and provincial governments must follow reasonable agriculture extension services

A cotton cultivator in Pakistan, at present, achieves a lower yield per hectare than the global average.

Experts in Pakistan now feel that transgenic seeds like Bt cotton seeds are useful to a certain extent, but cannot provide a cure-all formula for success. They feel that the success of Bt cotton seeds have been over-emphasized.

“If the fields are made weeds-free, including those on water channels, prior to sowing of the seeds, the chance of a pest attack gets reduced by half. For instance, the bollworms that are found in cotton actually breed on the vegetables that are grown just before cotton,” says an expert.

Similar views have been aired by experts in India, who are now examining other possible reasons for the growth of higher yields, besides the Bt cotton technology. The yield per hectare which was stagnant at about 300 kg/ha for more than 10 years had increased substantially and reached a level of 554 kg/ha in cotton season 2007-08.

It is being felt, that besides Bt cotton, Imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide, might also have been responsible for increasing yield by 25 to 30 percent in the conventional cotton hybrid varieties. Imidacloprid is useful against leaf hopper and it is being used since 2000, much before the introduction of Bt cotton in the country.

Some other reasons for the increase in cotton output in India possibly include the increase in hybrid cotton area from 40 percent to 90 percent, introduction of new insecticide molecules for bollworm control and pest management, and increase in area under cotton cultivation in Gujarat from 1.5 million hectare in 2000 to 2.6 million hectare by 2009.

Editor's note-It has been commonly observed that pests become resistant to new methods of their control, over a period of time. Hence, continued research and innovation is necessary for efficient pest management and to increase the crop yield.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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