AP Farmers Gear Up To Plant Bt Seeds Again

Hyderabad, May 22: | Updated: May 23 2003, 05:30am hrs
Despite the hue and cry over Bt cotton varieties, the cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh are gearing up to plant Bt seeds for the second commercial season after the commercial launch last year. Mahyco-Monsanto has decided to sell over 7 lakh seed packets of Bt varieties across the country. In Andhra Pradesh alone, Monsanto is planning to market about 1 lakh seed packets during the year targeting one packet for one acre.

The company has proposed to launch better staple length and yield varieties, MECH 12 and MECH 184 during the year. Last year, MECH 162 which is a medium staple length variety, was introduced in the state. The proposed new varieties are expected to have long length and bigger boll size for better yields, according to Mr Bipin Solanki, deputy managing director, Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech Ltd.

Addresssing a press conference, Mr Solanki said that about one lakh bookings for the new Bt varieties have already been done in the state. During last year, the price realisation by the cotton farmers was relatively more when compared to the non-hybrid varieties, he said.

Responding to a query on the compensation issue demanded by the farmers who have reported loss of crop, Mr Solanki said that the company had not received any complaints so far and there are still vested interests among some NGOs which are against the company's developments. In the state, about 9,000 acres were sown for Bt varieties during last year. On an average, the farmer got Rs 20,000 per quintal, said a farmer.

Meanwhile, apart from the existing varieties which cater to southern and central region, the company is planning to launch 6 more new varieties - 2 each for southern, central and northern region. These varieties are expected to insect-resistant as well have more yield quantity. The field trials for these varieties are expected to commence this year, Mr Solanki added.