Bt cotton benefits even small-scale farmers: Study
Bt cotton has economically benefited not merely the big farmers. Small farmers are also smiling as their profit margin shot up by 50 per cent in the last decade, a new German study has found.
Based on surveys carried out in 533 farming households in four cotton growing states including Karnataka between 2002 and 2008, the study says cotton yields and profits increased by 24 and 50 per cent respectively among Bt cotton farmers as against non-Bt crops. The researchers attribute the increase in yield and profit to reduced
damage from the cotton bollworm.
The findings – published in the July 2 issue of Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences – is contrary to an earlier assertion that genetically modified crop technology would harm smallholder farmers due to low and eroding economic benefits.
The researchers further determined that household living standard increased by 18 per cent among Bt cotton farmers once the growers realised that the profit gains are sustainable.
Because most of the farmers are relatively poor, the authors report that the gains have made a substantial positive impact on their lives.
Living standards were measured in terms of the value of consumption, which includes all consumer goods and services that the households consume. In other words, with growing income, Bt cotton farmers and their families have better access to food. They can also purchase non-food items like mobile phones.
“Our finding of an 18 per cent increase in living standard means that Bt adoption led to an 18 increase in consumption expenditures. Our data and detailed consumption data are unique worldwide in a GM crop context,” Matin Qaim, professor of agricultural economics and rural development at Georg-August-University of Goettingen and one of the authors of the study told Deccan Herald.
India allowed entry of Bt cotton in 2002 with three hybrids. By 2011, seven million farmers had adopted hundreds of varieties of genetically modified cotton on 26 million acres, which comprises around 90 per cent of the total Indian cotton area.