Indian ministry estimates Bt cotton acreage at 9.5mn ha
20 Dec '11
2 min read
Bt. cotton is the only crop approved for commercial cultivation in nine states by Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC). The area under Bt. cotton is targeted to be around 95.04 lakh ha for the year 2011-12.
The findings of laboratory and field studies conducted and also commissioned by Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur showed that Bt. cotton was toxic to bollworms but did not have any direct effect on any of the non- targeted beneficial insects and was also non-toxic to, birds, fish, cow, goat and soil micro-organisms.
Studies conducted by CICR showed that Bt. Cotton has been playing a major role in effectively protecting the crop from bollworms, especially the American Bollworm,
Helicoverpa armigera, thus preventing yield losses. The biggest gain from the technology was in the form of reduced insecticide usage from 46% in 2001 to less than 26% after 2006 and 21% during the last two years 2009 and 2010.
The introduction of Bt. cotton hybrids has helped in production increase from 156 lakh bales (170 kg lint per bale) in 2001 to an estimated 356 lakh bales in 2011. Bt. cotton was introduced in 2002 and the area increased from 0.29 lakh hectares in 2002 to 95.04 lakh hectare in Kharif 2011(target). The productivity was 309 kg per hectare in 2001 before the introduction of Bt. cotton which increased to 495 Kg/ha in 2010.
Studies conducted by CICR showed that there was enormous farmer support for Bt. cotton as is evident from the fact that more than 90% of the area in all the cotton growing states in India is now under Bt. cotton. Maximum gains in yield increase have been obtained in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab and Tamil Nadu.
There have been a few stray reports of opposition to the technology from NGO groups, but these have had a miniscule impact on the spread of Bt. cotton in India. Farmers are being constantly educated by CICR, State Agricultural Universities, Krishi Vigyan Kendras through front line demonstrations and training programmes on all aspects pertaining to GM crops, its bio-safety and suitable methods for harnessing sustainable benefits through appropriate crop production technologies.