The Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSSI), which represents the research-led agri biotech companies, has said that HTBt cotton, which is yet to get the government’s approval, will be grown in about 15 per cent of the total cotton area in the country in the upcoming season. “Out of the 4.5 crore packets of the estimated total cottonseed requirements for the upcoming kharif season, the HTBt (Herbicide Tolerant Bt) cottonseeds will be around 75 lakh tonnes,” Ram Kaundinya, Director-General of FSII, has said.

“The proliferation of this illegal seed would mean less revenue for the cottonseed companies and loss for the government in terms of unreleased tax collections. Moreover, if a crop fails, farmers can’t seek any compensation because they sowed illegal seeds,” he said.

He said there was no new agri-biotechnology introduced in the last 15 years, resulting in technology fatigue and pests getting resistance against the technology. The yield levels fell to 470 kg per hectare against 530 kg a hectare a few years ago.

Stating that High Density Planting System (HDPS) holds promise for the Indian cotton sector, he said about 28,000 plants would be grown in an acre in HDPS as against about 8,000 plants in the traditional method. The size of the plant will come down as per plant yield. But since you are planting more plants, you will get more yields overall,” he told businessline.

Need to reduce energy

The FSSI DG said there was a need to increase the quantity of ginning out-turn (the percentage of ginned output). “At present, it is 36-37 per cent in India as against the global benchmark of 44-45 per cent. We should also focus on reducing impurities in the output as it could bring down the value. The industry expects clean cotton. In order to achieve this, we need to go for cleaners at the field level,” he said.

Bt in more products

Kaundinya said the country should encourage research and introduce Bt products in vegetables, maize and soya. Investments in R&D are not coming because of a lack of protection for intellectual property. “Application of pesticides in vegetable crops like brinjal is very high. We can start off by introducing Bt in ladyfinger, cabbage, and cauliflower,” he said.

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