With the kharif season fast approaching, the Telangana government and farmers’ union have launched independent campaigns to discourage people from illegal bio-tech cotton seeds or Roundup Ready Flex seeds.
The third generation seed technology developed by Monsanto gives cotton plants protection against glyphosate, which is sprayed to kill the weed. Though the technology doesn’t have permissions in the country, farmers have been using it extensively.
The fact that a third of 45 lakh acres of cotton area in Telangana alone was covered by the illegal seed shows the depth of its penetration.
Both Monsanto and private companies that sell bio-tech seeds denied any role in the production of these seeds.
With unscrupulous players flooding the market with these seeds, the State government has begun a campaign across the State to spread awareness.
It warns of Preventive Detention and arrest of those in possession of these seeds. “These seeds don’t have any permission for sale. Don’t buy them. The government holds no responsibility if you plant them. Glyphosate is not environment-friendly,” a government official warned the farmers.
The district level officials are printing banners, informing the farmers about the ill-effects of the herbicide-tolerant seeds.
‘No to Bt’
The farmers’ unions too are advising the farmers to be careful about the illegal seeds.
“To discourage farmers from using the RRF and Bollgard-II, which have become highly ineffective against pink bollworm, we need to promote non-Bt varieties such as Narasimha, Rythu Rakshana, Suraj and Nandhyala 5494 seeds,” T Sagar, Secretary of the Telangana Rythu Sangham, told BusinessLine.
“Non-Bt varieties can give yields up to 15 quintals an acre, while the Bt varieties are leaving the farmers in losses,” S Malla Reddy, Vice-President of All-India Kisan Sabha, said.
He demanded that the State government make enough stocks of non-Bt seeds available in the market well ahead of the season.
Telangana and Andhra Pradesh would constitute about a sixth of the three crore acres of the projected cotton area in the next kharif season.
Telangana alone is expected to plant cotton on about 40 lakh acres.