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Seven more companies to commercially release Bt cotton seeds

(Friday, March 14, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- rediff.com: Response to Bt cotton has been favourable and about seven more companies are preparing to release their genetically modified cotton hybrids for commercial use shortly, a study conducted by Rabobank International says.

The study also forecasts further consolidation of Indian seed industry, which is already among the top 10 in the world, with players either exiting the market or being acquired by larger players.

Quoting industry sources, the study says Mahendra and Paras of the Emergent group, Nath Seeds, Ankur Seeds, Ajeet Seeds, Raasi Seeds, Krishi Dhan and Nuziveedu Seeds are preparing to release their Bt cotton hybrids for commercialisation by 2006.

While Nath is sourcing the gene from the Biocentury Transgene Company, a Chinese firm, the other players have entered into sublicensing agreements with Monsanto.

Bt Cotton was developed and first commercially launched in India by Mahyco-Monsanto last year.

The study says in near future multinational companies could invest more to develop or outsource capabilities in transgenic technologies.

The recent reports on the performance of Bt cotton suggest that the response has been fairly acceptable and that the technology can offer the farmer a net cost benefit, it says.

A significant decrease in the total level on cotton this year does, however, leave the real merit of the technology as yet untested, it adds.

Insecticide consumption will depend on the acreage of Bt cotton over the next few years. The study says increasing Bt cotton acreage may lead to 20-25 per cent reduction in pesticide consumption, which is not drastic but is quite significant.

India is among the top 10 seed markets in the world and is still in growth phase, suggesting a big opportunity for the players to tap its potential and register growth.

India is involved in imports and exports of around $28 million annually; the key demand drivers include growing awareness of the benefits of high-quality seeds.

There is willingness to invest in technologically advanced products like Bt cotton, replacement rates in major food crops is increasing, growth in food service and retail industry is generating demand for improved varieties of certain fruits and vegetables.

The drought last year saw a total fall by more than 30 per cent in the industry turnover with a commensurate reduction in cumulative sales of most players.

While large players like Mahyco, Proagro, Pioneer, Emergent Group, Ankur, JK and Nuziveedu can withstand the pressure on their financial strength, several small and unorganised players will be unable to do so due to reduced turnovers and huge inventory build-ups.

This would lead to a shake up in the industry, where by volume of turnover the share of public sector is 41 per cent, that of large private players is 33 per cent, medium-sized and unorganised ones' is 13 per cent each.

Apart from the acquisition of small players by larger ones, the study forecasts attempts towards distribution and technical tie-ups in the sector.

Source: http://www.rediff.com/money/2003/mar/14cotton.htm