Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life. Major crops cropping patterns in various parts of the country, different types of irrigation and irrigation systems storage, transport and marketing of agricultural produce and issues and related constraints; e-technology in the aid of farmers.
Why in News ?
The Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) and the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) urged the Centre to take action against sudden surge in illegal cultivation of herbicide tolerant (HT) Bt cotton in the country this year.
What is the issue ?
It was being grown in major cotton growing states for several years at a lower intensity, but the sale has suddenly shot up this year posing a serious threat to the environment, farmers, legitimate seed companies and government revenue.
If the sale of unapproved HT-BT cotton seed is not stopped it would spell disaster for the industry and farmers.
Regulators are only limiting their checking to licensed dealers and seed companies while this illegal activity of HT seed sales is carried mostly by unorganised and fly-by night operators.
Illegal Cultivation Of HT-Bt Cotton
Focus must be shifted to catching them and taking exemplary and strong punitive action. Seed industry bodies have made representation in this regard to Union Agriculture and Environment Ministries and sought immediate action.
Field Inspection and Scientific Evaluation Committee (FISEC).
It was set up under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) by the Prime Minister”s Office. After testing several thousand samples, concluded that about 15 per cent prevalence of unapproved HT Bt cotton were in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Gujarat.
An increase of the major cotton states from estimated 35 lakh packets last year to about 70 lakh packets this year. Packs show the presence of many technologies which could pose a very serious situation in the field.
What is the Impact ?
If it is not controlled immediately by the governments, it will spell disaster for the industry and farmers. It will not only decimate small cotton seed companies but also threatens the entire legal cotton seed market in India. The illegal seeds are sold using the brand name of prominent companies.
Farmers are at risk with such illegal cotton seed sale as there is no accountability of the quality of seed. Illegal seed pollutes the environment and the industry is losing legitimate seed sale. Spread of illegal seeds can also contaminate legitimate seed production thereby putting seed production farmers to heavy losses.
What is BT Cotton ?
Cotton lags in resistance not available against the bollworms that cause serious threat to the crop. As an alternate strategy against pesticide, is explored to circumvent this problem by cloning and transferring the genes encoding the toxic crystal δ – endo toxin protein from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.
The Bt transgenic cotton (Bollgard of Monsanto) has thus been developed successfully in USA which has the ability to control the bollworms during crop growth effectively. In India currently 59 Bt hybrids have been approved in different cotton growing zones by GEAC (Genetic Engineering Approval Committee, Government of India) after extensive field trials by All India Coordinated Cotton Improvement Project centres and RCGM trials in farmers’ fields.
What are the advantages of BT Cotton ?
Bt cotton technology does not harm non-target beneficial insects. It reduces the reduction in production cost, increase in profit, reduced farming risk and improved economic outlook.
Excellent control of American Boll worm. Reduced the use of insecticides leading to create eco-friendly environment. Cotton Cultivation in India Cotton the most important commercial crop of India, often referred as the White Gold, consumes more than 45% of the total pesticides used in our country.
Tropical and sub-tropical areas, a kharif crop which requires 6 to 8 months to mature. It requires uniformly high temperature varying between 21°C and 30°C.
An average annual rainfall of 50- 100 cm. Frost impact negatively and growth retarded when the temperature falls below 20°C. It is grown in areas having at least 210 frost free days in a year.
Insects affecting Cotton Cultivation
The most important insect pests that affect cotton production are jassids, white fly, aphids and thrips among the sap sucking pests and boll worms (American, Pink and Spotted) and Spodoptera among the leaf eating caterpillars. Of these cotton pests, the American boll worms alone cause yield reduction upto 40 – 70 % under severe incidence.