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Monsanto's maize spells doom for Bihar farmers

April 02, 2003 16:56 IST

US company Monsanto's 'Kargil 900 m' maize crop cultivated over 140,000 hectares of land in Bihar has failed and the state government has ordered an inquiry into the fiasco.

Lured by the promise of high yield - 80 to 85 quintal per acre - the farmers of flood-affected districts of Darbhanga Sitamarhi, Muzaffarpur, Madhubani, East Champaran and West Champaran sowed Kargil seeds on a large scale.

Some of these farmers borrowed money at high interest rates for buying Kargil seeds in the hope that good yields would offset last year's losses due to floods.

Official sources said Monsanto sold about 700 tonnes of Kargil 900m seeds that constituted the lion's share of 900 tonnes of maize seeds sold in Bihar.

Out of a total area of about 180,000 hectares under maize cultivation, Kargil seeds were sown in about 140,000 hectares, particularly in the flood-affected districts.

Admitting that the Kargil maize seeds supplied by Monsanto were non-productive, Shiv Shankar Yadav, the state agriculture minister, said an official inquiry had already been ordered into the matter.

Yadav said the state government had not received an official intimation from the Centre about the supply of seeds to Bihar, and it appeared that the seeds were supplied by some agency without proper verification.

He said the state government had asked the officials to prepare a status report on the estimated loss caused by non-productive seeds.

Yadav said appropriate action would be taken against the US company, if something wrong was detected.

Meanwhile, scientists of Rajendra Agriculture University have started examining the farmers complaints about the failure of the seeds.

Scientists believe prima facie that the principal cause of failure of 'Kargil 900 m' was mixing of old seeds with the recently harvested ones during the packaging.

Farmers have been staging demonstrations at district and sub-divisional headquarters against the "fraud" which, they believe, involves the government officials. They are also demanding compensation for the loss of maize crops.

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