Farmers in India are getting obsessed with Bt cotton. There was huge rush from farmers for Bt cottonseeds in Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, leading to police to lathicharge.
Police officials said a large number of farmers from five mandals mobbed the seed sale points worrying that they might not get the required quantity of seeds.
The Andhra Pradesh government has asked the seed companies not to cash in on the eagerness of farmers to buy Bt cotton seeds.
Reports said thousands of farmers made a beeline at the sales point, seeking to buy packets of RCH2 (a Bt cottonseed from Rasi Seeds), which has gone well with the farmers in Adilabad and Karimnagar districts.
N Raghuveera Reddy, Minister for Agriculture, said farmers should not panic as the company gave a written undertaking that they would supply one lakh packets of seed this season.
Stating that reduction of seed price had led to phenomenal growth in Bt acreage, the Minister said from 5.5 lakh acres in 2005-06, Bt cotton acreage went up to 16 lakh acres in 2006-07.
The total cotton crop area in Andhra Pradesh was put at 24.67 lakh acres.
Asking the farmers not to worry about the seed, the minister said the seed companies had assured to supply 38.28 lakh packets of seed as against the total cotton acreage of 24.67 lakh acres.
India introduced Bt cotton in 2002. It has so far been planted in 50,000 hectares. In 2006, the area increased to 3.8 million hectares, almost 70% of the hybrid cotton area of 6.3 million hectares.
There are now 111 Bt cotton hybrids to choose from for the farmers, after the by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) early this month approved 49
GEAC had approved 62 hybrids until 2006. New hybrids have been approved in the wake of a recent Supreme Court order, according permission for commercial release of Bt cotton hybrids.
The approved varieties include the GEAC renewal of permission to Mahyco Seeds for commercial release of Mech-12 Bt cotton for central zone and Mech-184 Bt cotton for central and south zones.
GEAC has approved for the north zone ( Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan) 15 hybrids developed by Ankur Seeds Ltd, (1), Prabhat Agri Biotech Ltd, (1), Vibha Agrotech Ltd, (2) Nandi Seeds (P) Ltd, (2), Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, (1), Krishidhan Seeds Ltd ,(1), Pro Agro Seeds (P) Ltd, (1), Namdhari Seeds (P) Ltd, (1) Ganga Kaveri Seeds Ltd, (1) and Bioseeds Research (2).
Permission has been granted to the Bt hybrid of J K Agri Ltd (1) and Mahyco Seeds Ltd(1) also. There were request for approval of 23 Bt cotton hybrids for the region.
For the central zone (Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh), GEAC approved in all 38 new bt hybrids, rejected 16 varieties and referred back to the Review Committee on Genetic Manipulation (RCGM) eight hybrids. The approved seeds are from, Tulsi Seeds (1), Kaveri Seeds (2), Paravardhan Seeds Ltd (2), Vibha Seeds (4), Pro Agro Seeds Co Ltd (1), Vikram Seeds Ltd (1), Bioseeds Research (2), Ankur Seeds (2), Nuziveedu Seeds (3), Prabhat Agrobiotech Ltd (2), Nandi Seeds (3), Amar Biotech Ltd (1), Ajeet Seeds (1), Rasi Seeds (2), Mahyco (1), Nath Seeds (2), Zuari Seeds (1), Navakar Hybrid Pvt Ltd (1) and J K Agri Genetics Ltd (3).
Besides these, 33 Bt hybrids are approved for large-scale trials in north zone and 24 varieties in the central zone.