Price of Bt cotton seeds hiked

Suppliers may relent, and make seeds available to farmers

While the cotton-growing area in the region has gone up by almost 25 per cent, multi-national companies supplying cotton seeds have stopped supply, demanding an increase in the price commensurate with “operation costs”.

Acting swiftly in the wake of a farmers’ protest in Mysore early this week, the State government has allowed an increase of Rs 180 on a packet of Bt cotton seeds. (The price of a packet of Bt cotton seeds is now hiked from Rs 650 to Rs 830 for the BG1 type seed, and from Rs 750 to Rs 930 for the BG2 type).

Sources told Deccan Herald that with the government hiking the price, seeds companies too have agreed to resume supply.

However, not all is well with seed production. “Rains in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh had slowed down cross pollination, affecting seed production,” a company official said.
Cotton is grown in a total area of about 4 lakh hectares to fetch a yield of about 9 lakh bales (1 bale equals 170 kilos) in Karnataka.

Haveri, Dharwad, Gulbarga and Mysore regions are the highest producers. Given the monsoon pattern, Mysore and Chamarajanagar are the first districts to go for sowing and early yield.

The bumper price last year due to a demand-supply gap has prompted more farmers, including traditional tobacco, sunflower and groundnut growers in the region, to opt for cotton this year.

According to Krishnaiah, Joint Director of Agriculture, the cotton cultivation area has swelled to 53,000 hectares in the district, compared to 40,000 last year. The demand for seeds is put at 1.35 lakh packets this year.

“The government allowing a price hike for the seed has helped mitigate the present crisis. Companies have assured to supply about 50,000 packets of seeds by April 28. We will start distributing the seeds through authorised dealers by the weekend. The farmers should desist from buying seeds in the black market,” he said.

Krishnaiah,  advised farmers to go for mixed cropping, reducing the cotton-growing area in the field.

“Cotton seeds are in short supply presently. Farmers can look at growing sunflower and maize. It will be a wise move to avoid any loss in case of a bumper cotton crop and an unexpected fall in the price this year,” he said.

He also warned of stringent action against distributors selling seeds for more than the maximum retail price.

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