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Bt cotton proves a failure in Andhra Pradesh

(Tuesday, March 4, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Sun Network: Hyderabad, Mar 03 - It was hailed as one of the biggest advances in Indian agriculture. However, there are now clear indicators that the genetically modified Bt cotton has been a failure at least in Andhra Pradesh. Farmers in Andhra Pradesh grew Bt cotton crop on 8,000 acres last year. The genetically modified crop with in-built pest resistance was expected to reduce heavy input cost on pesticides and also increase yield.

But the state government says farmers aren't getting the yields they were promised and the poor quality of the crop also fetches a lower price in the market.

"Overall information is that the farmers have not experienced very positive and encouraging results," remarked V S Rao, Agriculture Minister, Andhra Pradesh.

Jaipal Reddy, a cotton farmer from Warangal district, says Bt cotton has fetched up to Rs 200 less per quintal because the quality was inferior.

"The sprays are less, but the farmers are very unhappy about the size of the bolls," said Jaipal Reddy, Chairman, Cotton Committee.

Advocates of Bt cotton say drought conditions are also to blame for the decreased yield. "It has definitely helped in reducing pesticide use. But whether it has given sufficient yield or not is a different question. Bt cotton by and large is supposed to have irrigation facilities," said Chengal Reddy, Farmers' Activist.

Despite the unimpressive performance of Bt cotton, the Andhra Pradesh government is still open minded about genetically modified crops, as the government believes that biotechnology has tremendous potential to improve crop productivity.