We know that since the last decade, Indian farmers have been sandwiched between high cost of production and low commodity prices. In the absence of viable alternative for agriculture, they are desperate to maximize income through all possible means. In these circumstance, low costs production with greater productivity could be a promising option to augment income. We know that it is the duty of democratic state to provide reasonable means of livelihood for its people. Now, it is onto the government whether to grant permission or give viable alternative. Let’s find out the causes of “why farmers demand HTBt cotton.”
Success of Bt cotton
In India, hybrid cotton cultivation was started in 2002, when first time farmers went for Bt cotton. Today, Bt cotton is widely used comprising almost 90 percent of cotton belt.
As per the of surveys of various non-profit organisations, Bt cotton helped to increase yield by 20 percent compare to traditional varieties. At the same time, there is decline in the use of pesticides as it has pest and insect resistant abilities.
In this way, Bt cotton helped to generate better surplus by increasing yield and reducing the cost of pest management.
Reasons for HTBt cotton demand
Recent farmers arrests for illegally cultivating HTBt cotton despite ban highlights that the Farmers are desperate for HTBt cotton.
The main reason for HTBt cotton is that it is herbicide resistant. Farmers argue that it is going to reduce the extra labour and expenditure on the weed management.
Moreover, it may increase the yield as well. Other varieties cannot withstand to herbicide spray.
According to the Genetic Engineering Appraisal committee (GEAC) ,which is the main organisation under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change,
HTBt cotton may give rise to herbicide resistant “Super Weed” in the future. As per the view of committee, “Recent study shows that pest evolved resistance to Bt cotton after a few generations. Therefore, the possibility of Super Weed cannot be ruled out in the near future.”
It is also true that in the various developed nations including US, the news of pest resistance to Bt cotton have been surfaced in the recent time.
It is undeniable truth that hybrid varieties are water and fertilizer intensive. Since the last decade, water scarcity has been a serious headache for the government agencies. Moreover, the degree of Eutrophication in the rivers is also a serious threat for aquatic ecosystem. Both issues are really serious and deserve attention.
What should be done
We must go for a sustainable solution. HTBt cotton is neither going to be a saviour of farmers nor would prove a cause of environmental crisis. Our past is the repository of hesitation about the hybrid varieties but more on the ethical rather than scientific grounds.
Now, in the present situation, We must find out a middle path to augment farmers income without compromising environment. After all, we must not forget that Bt cotton has already failed to control the wave of farmers suicide even after one and half decade.