Interview with Shamika Mone

Face2Face
Shamika Mone
Shamika Mone
Research Director
OFAI
OFAI

Please explain the advantages of organic cotton cultivation in India in detail.

The high-input requirements of Bt cotton, in terms of fertilisers and water, make the crop an increasingly risky investment for small farmers, particularly in rain-fed areas which constitute a majority of the cotton-growing area in India. The depletion of nutrients and soil health is also a related problem. The experience of farmers clearly shows that while a lower number of pesticide sprays were required in the first two years of Bt cotton adoption, thereafter the pesticide requirement have increased. And now, the number of pesticide sprays required is equal to or more than that in the pre-Bt cotton period. Emergence of secondary pests and eventual increase in pesticide expenditure has been the major issue. A major advantage in growing organic cotton is the drastic reduction in input costs involved in seeds and pesticides with an increase in the net income per year.

Does organic cotton have the potential to provide emotional support to suicidal cotton farmers of Vidarbha?

Farmers cultivated Bt cotton on a large scale because initial production was high, given that the crop was pest-resistant. However, eventually small and marginal farmers suffered losses because of high-input costs and yield loss due to the development of resistance in the targeted pests. Moreover, the cultivation of Bt cotton caused traditional local cotton varieties to be wiped out. These factors combined with indebtedness caused 7,992 farmer suicides in the region between 2006 and 2011. Organic cotton cultivation cannot only give emotional support, but a financial practical support to the cotton farmers in Vidarbha.

How is the competition like of organic cotton from other sustainable variants of cotton like BCI, CMiA, etc? Will these variants occupy a larger share in the international market as compared to the organic cotton?

Sorry, I am not aware of these variants that you seem to talk about. Manipulation by seed companies with aggressive and unethical promotion of Bt cotton, windfall profits for seed companies, monopolistic control over seed market and exorbitant seed prices are still the major problems.
Published on: 21/08/2015

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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