Mumbai | 15 Dec 2016
Maharashtra’s Agriculture Minister Pandurang Fundkar has announced that Monsanto, a global seed giant company, would not be permitted to develop cotton seed varieties in the state. The state government also declared that its four agricultural universities and the Central Institute for Cotton Research would develop seeds and make them available for farmers. The decision has been taken by Maharashtra government after large number of complaints against Monsanto was received from farmers. Farmers have been persistently protesting against Monsanto. Minister’s announcement came in the Legislative Council after NCP’s MLA Amarsingh Pandit moved a calling attention on the issue. MLA raised the concern that quality of seeds provided by Monsanto was inferior and consequently resulted in poor yield. In addition to this cost of seeds has also become high.
In Maharashtra, around 38 Lakh ha of land is under cotton cultivation. Almost 98 percent of the land is sowed Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds. Due to low yield and high seed costs the farmers have come under heavy debt. In addition, the low price of the yield has contributed to the losses and therefore, the farmers have not been able to clear the debts. Maharashtra has witnessed 3228 farmer suicides in 2015. The state also reported 1,417 farmer suicides in 14 districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha from October 2015 to June 2016.
Though the state government controls cotton seed prices but the prices of Rs 730 and Rs 830 at which seed is being sold is still high considering the bad quality of seed and low yield. Minister has assured that the newly developed seeds from agriculture universities would be available from 2018.