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Indian Bt cotton to help boost production

Nov '08
In order to upgrade the domestic cotton production, the Government of Philippines plans to import and test hybrid cotton from India in January 2009.

While talking to reporters at the 4th National Biotechnology Week in Diliman, Quezon City, Ms Alicia G Ilaga, Director of the Agriculture Department's Biotechnology Program Office said, “The Bureau of Plant Industry has already issued a permit to allow the entry of the Bt cotton seeds within a month or two, the materials will start coming in”.

Further she said, "We will test the Indian Bt cotton, licensed by China, for the efficacy, and if it matches with the climate for six months to one year. If the tests prove successful, the Government will encourage local companies to commercialize the variety by forming a joint venture with the state Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

"It would be a good strategy if we buy existing technology instead of taking too much time developing our own. The Government paid Peso1.5 million for initial access to the hybrid cotton technology," stated Ms Ilaga.

Presently, Bt cotton seeds will be planted in Luzon and Mindanao, two biggest islands in Phillipines.

The available data from USDA shows that Philippines imports near about 89 percent of its total consumption. In 2007, the country imported around 18,506.568 metric tons of cotton lint worth Peso2.4 million.

Studies show that the Bt cotton can produce 20 percent more than normal cotton, and is pest-resistant. Boll warm, pest can destroy 25 to 90 percent yield. Thus experts are of the opinion, once this experimentation with Bt Cotton is proved to be successful, the commercial propagation of the crop could be undertaken by 2010.

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