By admin       2016-12-15

DECEMBER 15, 2016 - The Maharashtra government on Wednesday announced that it would not allow multinational seed giant Monsanto to develop cotton seed varieties in the State henceforth. Instead, four agricultural universities and the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) will do the work. State Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar, while replying to a calling attention motion raised by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Amarsinh Pandit, said the decision was taken after it was revealed that enlisting the company’s assistance had been financially disastrous for farmers. According to the data presented by Mr. Fundkar, Maharashtra has over 38 lakh hectare of land under cotton, 98 per cent of which has been under Bt Cotton since 2002. As per the Maharashtra Cotton Seeds Act, 2009, the State government periodically controls seed prices. On June 8, 2015, a notification was issued where packets of BgI type were priced at Rs. 730 and BgII at Rs. 830. Mr. Pandit alleged that despite spending money on these seeds, there have been several instances of cotton crop being affected by diseases, with the Delta Indo Toxin in the seeds failing to prevent them. “At a time when drought has already had a terrible impact on farmers, such seeds with serious faults are making conditions worse for farmers. While these private companies are minting money, the research sections in government universities are doing nothing,” he said. Replying to Mr. Pandit, the minister said the seeds developed by the government institutes would be made available from 2018, and no private company would be allowed to develop seeds. Farmers will have to pay only Rs. 350 per Bt seed packet. “The Maharashtra State Seeds Corporation Limited and agriculture universities have signed a pact for improved varieties of cotton seeds. CICR is at present experimenting on including BgI in 21 other types of seeds, while Panjabrao Deshmukh Agriculture University is developing a special seed for rainfed farming,” Mr. Fundkar said.

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