The production of Bt cotton seeds dipped 30-35 per cent in Andhra Pradesh, owing to high production costs. As a result, while the demand was about 45 million packets of cotton seed per year in the state, producers supplied only 35 million packets this year, according to the National Seeds Association of India (NSAI).
“Production costs have gone up substantially, but the government refused to increase the prices last year. We will once again approach the AP chief minister and make a representation to look into this issue,” said K Vidyasagar Rao, member of NSAI and managing director of Vibha Agrotech Limited.
Speaking to Business Standard on the sidelines of Indian Seed Congress 2011 here on Tuesday, Rao said the association would also make a representation to Gujarat and Maharashtra governments to study the issue and raise Bt cotton seed prices accordingly. In February 2010, NSAI first approached Andhra Pradesh seeking a 30 per cent hike in the prices of Bt cotton seed, which is also the country’s first genetically-modified (GM) seed variety.
The state government, however, issued a government order not to increase the prices. Currently, Bt cotton seeds are priced at Rs 650 and Rs 750 per packet each for single and double-gene technologies respectively. NSAI has requested the state government to increase it to Rs 850 and Rs 1,050 per packet each.
“Agriculture input costs including fertilisers, insecticides and labour costs increased 31 per cent since 2006, while the cost of Bt cotton seeds reduced around 16 per cent from Rs 750 and Rs 925 per packet in 2006,” Rao said.
AP accounts for 75 per cent of the seed production in India and provides direct and indirect employment to about 2.5 million people.
The seed industry is about Rs 7,000 crore of which Bt cotton seed market is pegged at Rs 2,000 crore. About 90 per cent of the total cotton cultivation is under Bt cotton, which has resulted in increase in farmers’ income to Rs 25,000 crore nationally and about Rs 4,000 crore in Andhra Pradesh alone, he said.
“The total acreage under Bt cotton production will also decline if companies continue to reduce production. This year, the total acreage was not under stress due to carry-over stocks from previous year,” Rao said.