Seed companies in Maharashtra will now have to sell Bt cotton seeds at reduced prices, thanks to the notification issued by the state government on Monday.
As per the notification, seed companies selling the varieties Bt Bollguard 1 and 2 have to cut prices by Rs 100. The existing prices were Rs 930/packet of BG-II seeds and Rs 830/packet for BG-I varieties. However, practically, almost all the cotton is of BG-II variety.
The state government had earlier appealed to Bt Cotton seed producers to reduce prices by R100 for 450 grams in view of the agrarian distress in the state. Agriculture minister Eknath Khadse on Monday announced that seed companies will now have to comply with government directives failing which strict action will be taken against them.
Since 40 companies did not comply with provisions of law, the government has confiscated 30.26 lakh Bt seed packets and cancelled 40 licences, Khadse said.
There will be no change in the price of non-Bt Hybrid Cotton seeds, the government said.
There are 104 organisations registered to produce Bt Cotton in the state.
MG Shembekar, vice president, National Seeds Association of India (NSAI), said it is now binding on seed companies in the state to comply with the government orders and accordingly companies had notified dealers about this.
Around 35-40% of the seed supply has already been sold and the remaining seeds will now be sold at the reduced prices, he said. Shembekar said that this could impact and result in possible losses by Rs 50 per pack for companies.
Maharashtra is the biggest seller of BT cotton seeds in the country. Seed companies in the state do a business of 1.5 crore BT cotton seed packs annually with turnover touching around Rs 7,000 crore.
There are some 10-15 major seed companies that account for 60-70% of the total business. Maharashtra is also the second largest cotton growing state in the country, after neighbouring state Gujarat.
A delegation led by NSAI recently met the minister to seek a price hike, but met with a negative response after the government sought a report from the state agriculture department and found that seed prices in the state were already high.
Unlike other crops, there is a separate state Act to control all aspects of Bt cotton seeds both in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.