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The Urgent Need for New Cotton Seed Varieties in India

India is in dire need of new varieties of cotton seeds and plants that are adaptive to the soil and climatic conditions to improve its cotton cultivation, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, Skill Development, and Textiles said in its recent report.
In 2022-23 India’s acreage under cotton was 13,061 lakh hectares, the highest in the world, but the productivity yield was only 447 kgs/hectare, whereas in the USA the productivity yield was 1,065 kgs/hectare, according to the Ministry of Textile data.


“The committee observed that the core agro-climatic limiting factors in cotton cultivation in India seem to be in our knowledge. It appears to the committee that in addition to the Bt+ and other similar seed traits, the country is in dire need of varieties of cotton seeds/plants that are adaptive/suitable for our soil and climatic conditions,” the report noted.

“The kg per hectare yield in India is extremely low when compared with kg per hectare yield of other major cotton producing countries. The committee notes that this low per hectare yield in India is due to the fact that the Bt seed technology in the country has become outdated and there is an urgent need for a new variety of seeds,” it said.

The panel asked the Ministry of Textiles to do a comprehensive study on how to increase the productivity of cotton. It noted that the problem with genetically modified seeds is that farmers have to buy the seed every year, leading to the start of their debt journey, which gets steeper as the pesticides, fertilizer, and labor costs add up without a commensurate increase in yield.

“The committee is of the firm opinion that much needs to be done in the area of availability of affordable and climatically adapted Bt or other hybrid varieties of cotton seeds in the country. Farmers should be further supported financially in quality seed procurement and in the adoption of best farming practices,” the report said.

On the government’s decision to exempt all cotton imports from customs duties, the committee said it might lead to an inflow of cheap cotton from other countries.

“In the absence of effective procurement and a price stabilization fund to ward off the adverse impact of such inflow on prices could lead to an added burden on the already crisis-ridden cotton farmers in the country. The committee is of the firm opinion that the Ministry of Textiles in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture should take necessary measures for protection guaranteed to the cotton farmer in the form of assured procurement at remunerative prices at least one and a half times the cost of production of cotton by the farmers,” it said. 

Content Credit:- Business Standard
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