Agriculture minister wondered why scientists and officials failed to promote time-tested traditional varieties and indigenous hybrids.
NOTE: Maharashtra produces about 50% of India's cotton. About 14,000 farmers are known to have committed suicide in Maharashtra in 2011 alone.
EXTRACTS: "Despite high spending on costly Bt seeds by farmers, the use of costly insecticides remains a matter of worry."
"Cotton yield in Vidarbha remains an abysmal 117kg per acre."
Noting that Bt cotton was benefiting seed companies more than farmers, [the agriculture minister] wondered why our agriculture scientists and officials failed to promote time-tested traditional varieties and indigenously developed hybrids.
Vikhe-Patil wants agri officers to be proactive
Times of India, April 30 2013,
NAGPUR: Official workshops and seminars of government departments are often perceived as exercise in futility and those attending them go through the motion. But the Kharif season preparatory workshop arranged by the Agriculture Marketing Department of the state government witnessed some no-nonsense straight talking from agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil who addressed it on the concluding day on Monday.
Such a preparatory meet for agriculture officials of Nagpur as well as Amravati revenue divisions was organized for the first time and top officials, including state agriculture commissioner Umakant Dhangat, were present for the two-day workshop that discussed various crops of the region and measures like supply of quality seeds, fertilizers, arrangements to be made for the impending kharif season.
The focus of the workshop naturally shifted to cotton, the main cash crop that has the largest area under cultivation in the region. The agriculture minister sat through patiently through an impressive presentation made by Central Institute of Cotton Research's director Dr Kranthi on his Brazil experience and success of the high-density crop stand (HDCS) developed by CICR.
Later, addressing the participants, Vikhe-Patil lauded the idea of holding the workshop. But then he minced no words when he stressed on the need for the agriculture officials to be more proactive. "Today Bt cotton spread has increased to 95%. We are now seeing that Bt may have checked bollworm attacks but incidence of other succulent pests remains. Despite high spending on costly Bt seeds by farmers, the use of costly insecticides remains a matter of worry. Has anyone of you present here written a report highlighting this issue," he asked.
"Cotton yield in Vidarbha remains an abysmal 117kg per acre. Even Pakistan was doing better with 400kg average yield," he remarked. He exhorted farm officials to deal with ground realities which change from region to region. "Echo the sentiments of the farmers in your reports," he said. He did not spare even the CICR saying it did little precious little all these years to empower farmers to face changing conditions. Now, I am happy that Kranthi is speaking the language of farmers and doing some commendable work," he said. He was happy that HDCS using hybrid cotton had given fantastic yields ranging from 20 to 50 quintals in trials conducted in eight districts of the region.
Noting that Bt cotton was benefiting seed companies more than farmers, he wondered why our agriculture scientists and officials failed to promote time-tested traditional varieties and indigenously developed hybrids.