Pune: The cotton crop across Marathwada is posing a fresh crisis to the already burdened farmers in the region, as the standing crops for which the farmers have invested thousands of rupees per acre, are seeing fresh infestation from a resistant pink bollworm. Farmers are now preparing to either uproot their crop in frustration or wait for the government to gauge and compensate them for the losses.
Bollgard is a genetically modified seed technology developed by multinational agro-chemical giant Monsanto.
“The BT seeds cost almost twice to normal seed varieties. In other countries, the seeds retail at Rs 100 for a kilo, but Indian farmers spend Rs 1,700 for the same,” said Gajanan Patil, a cotton farmer from Tembhurne in Jalna district. “On the 6 acres of my land, I had cultivated cotton at an input cost of almost Rs 1,40,000. When the plant was around 40 days old and was seeing boll flowering, I noticed the pink worms developing in them.”
Bandu Raut, a 40-year-old farmer also from Jalna, said, “I have a 3-acre farm on which I had cultivated cotton and had used the BT II seeds as recommended by the government. Now, I see that the worm infestation has developed on the flowers and I am apprehensive if I will even see some yield or recovery from my input costs this year.” Farmers are saying that the infestation has occurred even after assurances from the government.
“After faulty seeds were found last year as the bollworm had infested, the government had certified 42 seed brands as resistant to the worm and had encouraged the farmers to buy them,” said Manik Kadam, of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna. “Yet, farmers have seen rampant infestation even after using the high priced BT seeds, added Manik. Bhagwan Kadam, a farmer from Dagadwadi in Jalna, chopped his 1-acre crop out of 11 acres in frustration. He was about to commit suicide. 13,000 hectares of crops have been infested by the worm in Jalna district, 14,000 hectares in Parbhani and similar in other districts.
“In Gujarat, when last year such infestation happened, the government took precautions, guided farmers, etc,” Kadam said. “But in our State, unsold and confiscated seeds were resold to farmers. The government should gauge the damage and compensate the farmers as soon as possible,” he added.