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An example of wide diverging opinions on BioTechnology supported cotton growing in India.

Last modified October 05, 2009 13:13

An example of wide diverging opinions on BioTechnology supported cotton growing in India.

Viewpoint One

 

Source: Conversations about plant biotechnology

 

Two Studies Show Benefits of BT Cotton in India
Households have more income and cost savings, and higher access to maternal care services, child education and immunization

News Release from the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM):

MUMBAI, India (July 11) — With adoption of BT cotton technology, farmers engaged in cotton cultivation earned additional income of Rs. 7,039 crores in 20061; saved Rs. 1,600 on pesticides use in their one hectare of farm land compared to farmers growing conventional cotton hybrids; and had higher access to social services important for family health and welfare, according to two studies on "BT Cotton Farming in India" released today by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

"The Socio-Economic Appraisal of BT Cotton Cultivation in India" was undertaken by Indicus Analytics, an economics research group in New Delhi that has been providing research inputs to Central and State ministries, World Bank, UNICEF, USAID, and many other national and international organizations. The study on "Economic Benefits of BT Cotton Cultivation in India" was conducted by IMRB International.

The Indicus Analytics study covered more than 9,000 farmers across 467 villages and 28 districts of the eight cotton growing states. It focused on the social benefits realized by farm families as a result of higher incomes resulting from BT cotton cultivation. 

The IMRB International study on economic benefits covered nearly 6,000 farmers from 111 Taluks of 37 districts, including 4,188 BT and BT II cotton farmers and 1,793 other conventional cotton farmers in nine cotton growing states.

Anil K. Agarwal, ASSOCHAM immediate past president, said that both the studies have established the tremendous socio-economic benefits that have accrued to the cotton farmers as a result of the introduction of this technology.

Some of the major findings of the Indicus study include increased maternal care services, higher levels of immunizations and larger school enrollment for the children of BT farmers as compared to non-BT farmers.

"This study proves that the average Indian cotton farmer who has adopted BT cotton is leading a much better lifestyle over his non-BT counterpart," said Dr. Laveesh Bhandari, director of Indicus Analystics. "The impact of BT farming was found to be positive on the women and children in the BT households. The increased use of BT cotton cultivation has also had a positive impact on the farming community."

Women from BT households had a higher access to maternal care services, and children from BT households were found to have a higher level of immunization as compared to children from non-BT households. Children belonging to BT farming households showed significantly higher school enrollment compared to their non-BT counterparts in 5 out of 8 states surveyed.

BT cotton growing villages benefited greatly with an increased access to services such as telephone systems, electricity, drinking water, better internet connectivity, banking services, and better access to markets with a corresponding increase in shops and goods.

The Indicus study found that non-BT cotton farming households tend to be worse off across a range of socio-economic indicators. It was also observed that those who have taken up BT recently are not as well off socio-economically as those who took it up two or more years earlier. These results strongly links BT cotton farming to overall socio-economic progress, not merely linked to increase in income.

"The study indicates a strong relationship between the decision to adopt new technology, including new seeds, changing attitudes within a household and many opportunities for development that come with adopting BT cotton," said Dr. Bhandari.

The IMRB study also reports that pesticides consumption by BT farmers in their one hectare of farm land is estimated at Rs. 1,300 compared to Rs. 2,900 per hectare by farmers growing conventional hybrids in nine cotton growing states of Andhra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

Incremental benefits of BT over conventional cotton in 2006 include that net revenue per acre being Rs. 7,757 higher. Percentage of gross revenue benefit was up by 162 percent.

"It is also clearly evident that a BT farmer has higher level of income when compared to non-BT farmers," said Nikhil Rawal, senior vice president & executive director, IMRB International. "Increased earnings are also seen in the reduced amount of pesticide sprays required, amounting to 4.6 sprays less over conventional hybrid seeds resulting in an average savings of Rs. 934 per acre for BT farmers."

Farmers who planted BT cotton in 2006 earned an additional Rs. 7,039 crores in income, based on 8.77 million acreage penetration achieved during this crop season. This increase in acreage and number of farmers adopting BT is a testament to the continuing success and acceptance of the technology in India, Rawal said. The survey also indicates that there has been approximately 50 percent higher yield increase in BT fields in 2006, when compared with conventional cotton fields

SOCIO-ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BT COTTON FARMING IN INDIA

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • In terms of economic infrastructure and economic activity, BT villages are clearly ahead when compared with non-BT areas in terms of presence of permanent markets (44 percent in BT villages vs. 35 percent in non-BT villages), greater penetration of shops (24 percent vs. 18 percent), banking (34 percent vs. 28 percent), and other areas.

  • BT farming households are found to be faring well on the socio-economic front across a broad range of parameters. Similarly, it is found that non-BT cotton farming households tend to be worse off across a range of socio-economic indictors.

  • A farmer who predominately grew BT cotton, compared to cotton farmer not growing BT cotton, was more likely to adopt better farming practices. Such practices include cropping rotation, etc

  • The impacts of BT farming on members of a BT household were found to have been positive in many areas, especially for women and children.

    • The women belonging to BT households availed of maternal services like antenatal checkups in larger percentages than the corresponding women from non-BT households. The same was true for the case trained assistance at birth when the birth took place at the husband’s home (the most common location of deliveries).

    • Clear progress was visible on the immunization front among the BT predominant households. The children from BT predominant households (67 percent) were found to have higher levels of immunization compared to children belonging to non-BT households (62 percent).

    • As regards education, children belonging to BT farming households show significantly higher enrollment compared to their non-BT counterparts in 5 out of 8 states surveyed.

ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BT COTTON FARMING IN INDIA

KEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Farmers who planted BT cotton in 2006 earned an additional Rs. 7,039 crores in income, based on 8.77 million acreage penetration achieved during this crop season. This increase in acreage and number of farmers adopting BT is a testament to the continuing success and acceptance of the technology in India.

  • The survey confirms that there has been approximately 50 percent higher yield increase in BT fields in 2006, when compared with conventional cotton fields.

  • The number of sprays was about five sprays less per acre for bollworms in BT plants.

  • The net profit to farmers from BT cultivation increased significantly to 162 percent / Rs. 7,757 per acre. The reduction in bollworm pesticide sprays translated into an average savings of Rs. 934 per acre for BT farmers. This transforms into a benefit of Rs. 11.60/- for every Rs. 1/- spent for cultivating BT and Rs. 10.80/- for cultivating BT II cotton.

  • The perception of an average farmer on the future of BT farming in the country seemed to be positive. At an average 93 percent of the BT users were satisfied with BT performance.

  • Farmers who have been growing BT for the past few years also agreed to BT cotton cultivation having impacted their farming incomes positively

Editor’s Notes:

  • The Rupee (Rs) is the currency of India.

  • A crore is a unit in the Indian numbering system and is equal to 10 million.

  • 1 hectare = 2.5 acres

  • Indian economist Dr. Laveesh Bhandari is the founder director of Indicus Analytics, the economics research firm that conducted one of the studies discussed in this article.  In an online video on the Conversations about Plant Biotechnology Web site, Dr. Bhandari discusses the impact of this new technology in farming on Indian farmers, families and communities.

1 Rs 7,039 crore = 70.39 billion rupees

 

 

 

Viewpoint Two

 

 

ORGANIC COTTON VS BT COTTON
THE FUNNY CONTROVERSY OVER PRODUCTIVITY GAINS?
BOTH ARE A VICTIM OF DESERT FARMING! IT SPARES NONE! 


There is now a sort of running feud between the organic school and the genetic school. The latter claims productivity gains and the gains are attributed to the BT. The former disputes it. Whereas the factual position is that both are a victim of desert farming. Both show up sub-optimal crop productivities during upswings (known for excess rainfall) of monsoon cycles. Come the downswings (known for highly deficit rainfall) of the monsoon cycle, it is either an undeclared crop holiday for both or both end up giving poor yields. The insinuation is this. It is no more possible to take a reasonable crop -either BT or organic; irrigated or rain fed during downswings given the backdrop of desert farming. True, the rain fed crop culture scrapes through the constraints of desert farming to show up sub-optimal crop productivities with few exceptions.

What is Desert farming?

We define the desert farming as the a) desert terrain accompanied by b) desert climate. We refer to the common place climate change making news elsewhere. We prefer to name the climate change. It is desert climate par excellence. The GR desertified the terrain, which in turn fetched in the desert climate. The GR rendered the terrain moist less and shadeless. It mined the vast undisturbed groundwater reserves of the pre GR period together with the substantial presence made by the vegetative wealth. The duel mining (of groundwater and vegetation) eventually led to the surrogate mining of the vast atmospheric water reserves, which we call the Hydel Green House (HGH). The presence of HGH in strength during the pre GR period helped entice the monsoon. We had a rhythmic pattern of rainfall coupled with sumptuous mist fall thanks to the presence of HGH. The GR emptied the groundwater reserves, wiped out the vegetative wealth and in the same order pulled down the HGH. The net result is this. We are left behind in the company of desert terrain and a desert climate. The moist less and shadeless terrain (soils) is  left exposed to the onslaught of the predatory tropical Sun at one side and shortened monsoon at the other.

The causative factors behind undeclared crop holidays and farmer's suicides

1) Shortened monsoon + 2) predatory tropical Sun + 3) moist less and shadeless soils- the unsavory combination finding itself caught in the vortex of prolonged downswings is seen resulting in withering away of crops, withering away of livelihoods and withering away of farmer's lives (Suicides). To be sure, the upswings help overcome the derisive impact of unsavory combination to a certain extent. The net result is this. The upswings have come to be known after sub-optimal crop productivities where as the downswings are known for their undeclared crop holidays.

Desert farming vs Sustainable farming makes in to the real battle cry of the day and
Not least the organic vs BT


Seen against the above backdrop, it is clear that the battle line should be drawn between desert farming at one side and sustainable farming at the other. Any battle fought on the lines of organic vs BT looks funny. Address desert farming forthwith or perish.

FORUM FOR TROPICAL WATER

Mohan Reddy Vishwavaram



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