New Delhi: The Bt cotton industry in India has been again in the news for all wrong reasons. The pink bollworm attack on the cotton crops has left the industry, farmers, as well as the government, worried about the losses.
While sharing his opinion on the issue, Mr M Prabhakar Rao, Chairman and Managing Director, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd, Hyderabad felt that seed companies must follow Refugia in Bag (RIB) concept mandated by the government to contain the problem. He also stressed on the need to develop new traits of Bt cotton in wake of resistance by pink bollworm.
Mr Mandava Prabhakar Rao has managed the family-owned seed company since 1982 and led this company in its growth to become the largest seed company in India. The company has registered an estimated annual turnover of about Rs 1300 crores in the current year with about 20 percent share in the hybrid cotton seed market of India. Here Mr Rao, also a founder member of National Seed Association of India (NSAI) answers few questions from Rahul Koul on the issue of damage to Bt cotton due to pink bollworm and the challeges faced by the sector.
What could be the estimated financial loss to the industry due to pink bollworm attacks?
The production of cotton in 2015-16 should have reached at least 38.0 m bales from an area of 11.9 m hectares. Instead, cotton production halted at 33.8 m bales. Cotton lint yield was 482 kg per hectare. For the first time in eleven years the yield declined to less than 500 kg lint per hectare. The production losses was more than 3.5 million bales equivalent to 0.59 million of fibre worth 1.14 b US$. Even 10-15 percent yield losses on all India average, will cause a direct output loss and also losses to the investments of farmers. (Total cotton output in India is between 35-40 million bales and losses may be estimated based on Cotton bales prices). As per CICR estimate, the losses are approximately 7,000 crore.
“Some of the major challenges for the Bt Cotton industry in India include the following high labour cost for seed production and crop operations”