Updated on 21 May 2012
Dr NP Hirani, chairman of Maharashtra Cotton Growers Marketing Federation, says, "Low irrigation facilities in the state has been a big problem for farmers. If you draw a comparative picture with other cotton-growing states, such as Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana, Maharashtra has the lowest area under irrigation. We have 15 percent of the cultivated area under irrigation, out of which four percent is surface irrigation and 12 percent is well irrigation. In Gujarat, irrigation comes up to around 40 percent, while in Punjab and Haryana, it is 99 per cent. In Andhra Pradesh, it is 39 percent."
To take Bt cotton to its next level of growth, irrigation and tools for water availability will play a crucial role in the coming months. Dr Gyanendra Shukla, director, Mahyco Monsanto Biotech, says, "On the whole, India faces a water scarcity. In such a situation, the government, rather than giving monetary packages, should be thinking of providing such technologies as to how a farmer can store water and use them for his crops." Against this backdrop, companies are already working on drought-resistant seeds.
States like Gujarat and Rajasthan have been heavily investing in irrigation technologies over the past 10 years, with Gujarat reporting an impressive yield and acceptance from farmers. Dr BR Shah, director, Agriculture and Co-operation Department, Government of Gujarat, says, "There is a very good response to Bt cotton from farmers. After introduction of Bt cotton, the area under Bt cotton has increased, while area under other crops has shown decreasing trend. There was a continuous rise in acceptability of Bt cotton in Gujarat." The total area in Gujarat under Bt cotton cultivation is 24.62 lakh hectares out of 29.62 lakh hectares of total area under cotton in kharif 2011. Also, nearly 52.89 lakh packets of seeds of Bt cotton were sold in Gujarat during 2011-12.
Cost of cultivation