25% area under banned cotton: Farmers

MUMBAI:Nearly 25 per cent of the cotton crop being sown by farmers in Maharashtra this season is from the banned herbicide tolerant bio-technology (HTBt) variety, claim activists of farmers’ body Shetkari Sanghatana.

Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 7

Nearly 25 per cent of the cotton crop being sown by farmers in Maharashtra this season is from the banned herbicide tolerant bio-technology (HTBt) variety, claim activists of farmers’ body Shetkari Sanghatana.

According to the Sanghatana, the crackdown by the Maharashtra Government on its members who planted the banned variety last month as part of a farmers’ satyagraha has only sparked off more interest in the HTBt variety of cotton.  “Seeds of the HTBt variety of cotton are available in all major markets and farmers are buying these in large numbers,” says Anil Ghanwat, president, Shetkari Sanghatana.

He estimated that at least 25-30 per cent of the acreage under cotton this season would be of the HTBt variety.

According to the Sanghatana, seeds of the banned variety of cotton are being openly sold in markets in all major cotton-growing districts of Maharashtra.

Last month, several members of the Sanghatana planted the banned variety of cotton at a farm in Akola district. State officials arrested several farmers for possessing the banned seeds and filed cases against them. However, undaunted by the police action, farmers are planting these seeds. Reports say some of them have admitted to violating the ban on social media. The Sanghatana said it would be providing legal assistance to those arrested for violating the ban on cultivation of BT cotton.

The ‘GM Satyagraha’ has drawn opposition from environmental groups and the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. The BKS accused international seed companies of mobilising the seed companies to carry out illegalities and called for a stricter crackdown. “They mobilise some farmers through their illegal fraudulent means and cultivating these illegal seeds challenging the legal agencies openly,” Badri Narayan Chaudhary, All India General Secretary, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh said in a statement.

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