by Kaushal Verma and Shilpa Sharma - Cogencis,

Friday, Mar 9

NEW DELHI - The National Seed Association of India has urged the Centre to not reduce the price of cottonseed for the upcoming kharif season as it would make business unviable for seed firms, thereby leading to shortage of seeds. The Centre had set up a nine-member committee to fix Bt cottonseed prices in early 2016 to bring uniformity in Bt cottonseed prices and make seeds affordable for farmers.

According to reports, the committee has recommended lowering the price of Bollgard-II cottonseed by 60 rupees to 740 rupees for a 450-gm packet and trait fee to 39 rupees a packet from 49 rupees a packet. A trait or royalty fee is paid by domestic seed companies to the developers of the variations of cottonseed. If the government goes ahead with the price cut, the National Seed Association of Indiamember companies would not be able to supply ample seeds to the market for the upcoming kharif season that starts in June, the association said.

"(The) government is contemplating...slash(ing) the prices of Bt cotton to benefit the growers but its early to tell the extent of cut," a senior government official said. In a letter addressed to Farm Minister Radha Mohan Singh today, the association has rather asked the government to hike price of cottonseed. The association represents over 300 small and big seed firms in the country.

"The cost of input(s) including labour, fertiliser, and chemical have increased substantially since 2011, while seed value (has) actually (fallen) since then and therefore, we request...enhancement of the seed value by 150 rupees," it stated in the letter. The trade margins to distributors and dealers are also paid by the seed companies from the seed value component, it said. India allowed the genetically-modified Bt cotton technology for commercial cultivation in 2002 and it became a leading exporter of cotton in the world. In recent years, however, Bt cotton fields have seen repeated pest attacks and crop losses in key growing areas. -- End (Source: