by Ashok Sharma, Financial Express
NEW DELHI: Bt cotton growers, in 2004, incurred
690% higher cost in pest management as compared to those growing
conventional cotton varieties with the help of bio-pesticides
and natural control agents.
The Secunderabad-based centre for sustainable agriculture (CSA),
which conducted a study in major cotton-growing districts of Andhra
Pradesh, namely Warangal and Medak, said farmers could benefit
in the short and long term by restraining the use of chemical
pesticides and transgenic technology which destroys ecological
The CSA study was conducted by a team consisting of entomologist
SMA Ali, extension scientists GV Ramanjaneyulu and Kavitha Kruganthi.
The study covered 121 farmers growing conventional varieties of
cotton with the help of bio-control agents in an area of 193 acre
and 117 farmers growing Bt cotton in an area of 151 acre.
In 2004, about 1,82,000 acre was covered under Bt cotton varieties
namely, mech 12 Bt, mech 162 Bt, mech 184 Bt and RCH 2 Bt in AP.
About 7,000 acre was covered under conventional cotton varieties.
The conventional cotton varieties grown were brahma, maruthi,
dasera, gemini, sumo, tulasi, bhagya, durga and kranthi.
The study said Bt cotton became adverse with high cost of seeds
at around Rs 1,600 per acre. The seeds of conventional cotton
varieties cost about Rs 450 per acre. Thus, there is a difference
of more than 355% in the cost of seeds.
The study said in Bt cotton fields a range of low-value and expensive
pesticides were used namely, monocroptophos, confidor, tracer,
avaunt, endosulfan, acephate, demethoate, imidacloprid, quinalphos,
chlorpyriphos and cypermethrin. In the conventional cotton fields
bio-pesticides like neem seed kernel extract, trichoderma, panchakavya
and natural bio-control agents were used.
It noted farmers sprayed chemical pesticides on Bt cotton fields
more than three times on an average. In some cases it was seven
times. The average cost of spraying chemical pesticides on Bt
cotton fields works out to Rs 2,632 per acre, while the cost of
using bio-control agents on conventional cotton fields works out
to Rs 382 per acre. Hence, Bt cotton growers invested 690% more
toward pest management.
The study said, “Yields and net income of farmers are not
yet calculated as cotton plucking was still on at the time of
data collection. This data will be presented in the final report.”