November 9, 2014 (Source: The Hindu)
To regulate the prices of Bt cotton seeds in the State, the government is planning to introduce a Karnataka Cotton Bill, 2014, at the State legislature session to be held in Belagavi in December. The Bill envisages the constitution of an authority headed by the Director of the Agriculture Department for fixation of prices of Bt cotton seeds each year.
The seed companies will have to pay compensation to farmers in case of crop failure or supply of spurious seeds. The Agriculture Department has drafted the Bill on the lines of the Maharashtra Cotton Seed Act, 2009.
Official sources in the department told The Hindu that the Bill empowers the authority to issue licences to private firms to sell seeds to cotton growers. The Joint Director of the department will monitor the prices in each district.
Currently, there is no body to regulate seed prices and companies charge differently. During the last kharif season, the price of Bt cotton seeds in the State was at Rs. 830 per packet of 450 gms for BG I, and Rs. 930 per packet for BG II. Over 20 lakh packets were sold last season. Major seed companies, including Mahyo, Rasi Seeds Ltd., Ganga Kaveri Seeds, are involved in convincing farmers about the benefits of Bt cotton.
Hybrid variety: Over four lakh farmers in the State had been planting Bt cotton in nearly six lakh hectares of land. Bt cotton would form more than 75 per cent of the total area under cotton cultivation in the State.
The sources pointed out that despite controversies and misgivings about Bt cotton, many farmers have been switching over to the hybrid variety on account of high profit and aggressive marketing by private companies.
Bt cotton was introduced in India in 2002. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Gujarat are major Bt cotton growing States in the country. (Source: The Hindu)