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The Southern India Mills’ Association

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Karnataka: BT cotton makes way for cash, food crops

Cultivation of genetically modified cotton has fallen in North Karnataka owing to a variety of reasons and is making way for other commercial and food crops.
While, discouraged by the low yield and fall in the market rate for Bt cotton, several farmers have switched to other crops, some have even been driven to suicide owing to the loss they have suffered from cotton culti vation, which is labour-intensive and susceptible to pests.
Haveri district, which had the highest production of genetically modified crop in the state 4 years ago, has seen its cultivation fall by 50 %. In the past cotton covered 1.12 lakh hectares of the 3.22 lakh hectares under agriculture in the district. But with farmers jostling for Bt cotton seeds that were in short supply and forced to buy fertilisers at a higher rate from the black market in times of heavy rainfall, the cultivation of Bt cotton has now fallen by half in the district despite the good monsoon this year.
“We once cultivated Bt cotton on 20 of the 75 acres owned by our family. But now we have switched to soybean, maize and groundnuts, which are short duration crops.
Moreover, we cannot get fodder for our cattle by producing Bt cotton. Its yield has reduced drastically and the cost of labour is high. The price of cotton has also fallen to nearly half of what it was a few years ago”, said Mr Nagaraj Baseganni, a farmer from Agadi village in Haveri taluk. Haveri joint director of agriculture , V Sadashiv blames the fall in cotton cultivation to uncertain climatic conditions as the crop requires both dry and wet weather. “The fluctuation in the market rate owing to the export and import policy has prompted the farmers to switch to other crops,” he explained.