Updated on 21 May 2012
India must do more to keep the growth story going
In 2002, India had 7.7 million hectares of land under cotton cultivation. IA decade later in 2011-12, the area under Bt cotton cultivation in the country stood at 12.1 million hectares, which is about 90 percent of the total land under cotton cultivation in the country.
The cotton yield per hectare has increased by 60 percent since 2002. The revolutionary change is attributed to the introduction of Bt cotton in the farm fields of India. Cotton farmers in India, who had once given up cotton cultivation due to unaffordable costs of production and expensive and ineffective pest control, have returned to the crop since 2002. This change is also often referred to as the White Gold Revolution in the country.
But amid this boom, there is a region that has been an exception. Maharashtra, a state in western India, has seen a drop in the yield and production of Bt cotton in the past one year, especially in the dry regions of Vidarbha, that receives low rainfall. This is despite the fact that 95 percent of the total land sown in the state comes under Bt cotton cultivation.
According to statistics provided by the Maharashtra Cotton Growers Marketing Federation, the total sown area in Maharashtra in 2011-12 was 41.26 lakh hectares. Out of this, the total area sown under Bt cotton was 39.20 lakh hectares in 2011-12 as compared to 36.21 lakh hectares in 2010-11. However, the production saw a drop to 69 lakh bales in 2011-12 as compared to 74.73 lakh bales in 2010-11. Productivity too saw a drop with 2011-12 hitting a figure of 286 lint kg per hectare as compared to 322 lint kg per hectare in 2010-11.
Maharashtra grows 35 percent of India's total Bt cotton. But industry experts now say that more needs to be done by the government to bolster yield and incentivize farmers.