Updated on 21 May 2012
Demand to go up
Out of an estimated Rs 8,000 crore seed industry, Bt cotton seed market is pegged at Rs 3,000 crore. As per Cotton Association of India (CAI), the total cotton supply is estimated at 42.55 million bales, while the domestic consumption is estimated at 26.8 million bales, thus leaving 15.75 million bales as opening stock for 2012-13. While India produced 32.5 million bales (170 kg each) with 27.52 million acreage during the season ended September 2011, the next season's (October 2011- September 2012) output is projected to be 35.5 million bales from an acreage of 9.9 million acres (12.1 million hectares). The speedy migration of farmers to cotton from less profitable crops, such as oilseeds and pulses, has added to the forecast.
Ruling out any scarcity of Bt cotton seed currently, Dr Arvind Kapoor of Rasi Seeds is skeptical about the future. "In future there will be chances due to higher costs of production and price control by government on cotton sale," he says.
According to sources, the demand for Bt cotton seeds for the 2012 kharif season is estimated to be 4.5-to-five crore packets, while the estimated stock with the seed companies is four crore packets. Earlier, the demand-supply gap led to black marketing of Bt cotton seeds in many states. Seeds and fertilisers were distributed under police protection in 2008 and 2009 in Maharashtra after riots over seeds purchase. It was alleged that a few seed brands popular with farmers created an artificial shortage leading to strict vigil by the Maharashtra government last year.
Variable seed prices
As compared to other countries planting Bt cotton, India's Bt cottons are unique in the sense that they are hybrids and not varieties. The total value of cotton seed market is said to be around Rs 3,500 crore. According to various reports, the cotton seed prices are fixed in each state depending on whether it is Bt Bollgard-I and Bollgard-II. The price varies in the range of Rs 750 per packet for Bollgard-I and Rs 900 per packet for Bollgard-II. In Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, the prices of Bt cotton seeds containing BG-I and BG-II traits are Rs 750 per packet and Rs 920 per packet, respectively. In other states, the prices of BG-I and BG-II cotton are Rs 650 per packet and Rs 750 per packet, receptively. The seed industry associations have requested the government to increase it to Rs 850 and Rs 1,050 per packet each.