Karnataka bans sale of 2 Bt cotton varieties by Mahyco

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 11 2014, 09:53am hrs
The Karnataka government has banned Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (Mahyco) from selling two popular Bt cotton seed varieties in the forthcoming 2014-15 crop year (July-June), following reports of lower crop yields.

"The sales of Bt cotton hybrids by Mahyco company is banned until further orders in Karnataka," according to the order issued by the state agriculture department.

Further, the company has also been "blacklisted" to prevent it from participating in any tender process undertaken by the Karnataka state department of agriculture until further orders, it said.

According to the order dated March 22, the two seed varieties MRC-7351 and Nikkiplus did not perform as expected during the 2013-14 crop year,affecting yields across seven districts in the state.

After field visit, state government officials found that 58,195 hectares suffered loss in crop yields by more than 50% in the affected districts Haveri, Belgaum, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Dharwad, Bellary and Gadag.

The order said: "Mahyco has not conducted any awareness campaign or training programme for effective management of pests and disease. Therefore, Mahyco has clearly violated the instructions given by the Government of India at the time of permission of commercial sales."

It was way back in 2006 that the Centre had allowed Mahyco to sell Bt cotton seed varieties MRC-7351 and Bollgard-II for commercial cultivation in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Agriculture experts said that the ban may not have a significant impact on cotton sowing this year in Karnataka as farmers have a number of options and can source other varieties from other companies. However, the absence of these two popular varieties could cause some farmers to consider alternate crops, they added.

Currently, cotton that was sown during 2013-14 crop year is being harvested in the state.

Mahyco had sold 5.63 lakh packets of MRC-7351 and Nikkiplus in 2013. Farmers had sown MRC-7351 1.39 lakh hectares, while Nikkiplus in 0.12 lakh hectares.