India: Bt cotton seed companies may have to pay up for cotton losses
Dec. 5, 2017
The genetically modified Bt Cotton seed is originally made by American giant Monsanto. It is sold in Indian market through a number of domestic seed makers under franchisee arrangements.
This is said to be the worst ever attack in recent past of pink bollworm that eats away the cotton crop. The impact is seen in all districts. In Vidarbha, which is also dogged by agrarian crisis, cotton is the mainstay for farmers in many districts.
The complaints will be heard by district superintending agriculture officers (SAO). Submissions of the seed manufacturing company will also be considered. The decision will be taken by the director of seeds quality control in agriculture department.
The action is being taken under the Seed Price Control Rules 2013, said the state's principal secretary (agriculture) Bijoi Kumar. The amount of compensation will be decided by the designated committee formed to look into complaints, he said.
Apart from it, compensation is also being sought through the National Disaster Relief Fund. This is because the crisis is comparable to a disaster, he said.
State's agriculture minister Pandurang Fundkar said even in Buldhana district to which he belonged the incidence has been in more than 10% of the area under cotton. The process of gathering reports was under way. Sources said the process of collecting complaints began over a fortnight ago and would continue.
The individual companies whose seeds were found not effective against bollworm would be asked to pay compensation. Though bollworm reappeared 3-4 years ago, there has been a major infestation this year, said farmers as well as activists. According to Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), the pest has been seen in high numbers after first two pickings and it may take a toll on at least 30% of remaining crop.
Kishore Tiwari, chairman of Vasantrao Naik Shetkari Swavalamban Mission (VNSSM), said considering the widespread infestation, state government should directly declare compensation rather claiming it from manufacturers and then paying farmers. Scrutinizing each complaint will be a time consuming affair.
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