Taking a strong objection towards Centre’s move to regulate cotton seed prices, the leading biotech player, Association of Biotech Led Enterprises – Agriculture focused Group (ABLE- AG) termed the decision to be a dampener on the confidence in the making investments for innovative research & development of biotech.
The recent order, passed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Government of India regulates the maximum sale price of cotton seed in India as well as aims to control the licence fee, royalty trait fee and licensing terms for the innovative technology providers.
ABLE-AG also questions the decision-making process that involved no prior information, discussion, or consultation by the Ministry with the association or any of its constituent organisations or technology developer and provider and any other Stakeholder in general.
Raising the concerns on the Centre’s decision, Ram Kaundinya, Director General, Association of Biotech Led Enterprises – Agriculture focused Group issued a statement saying, “..we strongly oppose the order and the manner in which it was adopted. While a part of the Order seeks to determine Maximum Sale Price of cotton seed under the Essential Commodities Act, it surprisingly extends to fixing a component thereof associated with innovation.”
“We are saddened that such action has been taken without our Association or any member company being consulted on the same,” he said in a statement adding that the move is contrary to the Government’s ‘Make in India’ campaign and impacts ease of doing business.
Referring to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of Intellectual Property Rights being critical for Indian agriculture, Paresh Verma, Head of Management Committee, ABLE AG said, “Any policy that brings in adhocism related to potential return on investment will adversely influence research investment decisions of technology development companies.”
ABLE-AG raised strong objection on Centre’s move to bring even the Trait fees for cotton technology providers. ABLE-AG claimed that Trait fees for cotton technologies in India are amongst the lowest in the world and comprise only about 1-2% of the total cost of cultivation for farmers, while the benefits have been transformational. “The local cotton seed companies who are the licensees of the technology also prospered during this period by receiving a share of the trait fee being collected from the farmers.”
Since its introduction in 2002, Bt cotton has been a big success for the Indian agriculture. It helped India become world’s second largest cotton exporter with annual cotton production worth US $ 10 billion. About 7 million farmers are directly benefited from the cotton; as many as 20 million gets ancillary support in the form of farm labour.
As per a research by UK-based research group – PG Economics, higher cotton production and insecticide savings from Bt cotton seeds helped India’s cotton farmers earn Rs. 42,300 crore of additional income between 2002 and 2010.
The non-profit agency further noted that BT cotton’s success was further translated into overall improvement of the lifestyle for farmers with better quality education, nutritious food and increased recreational and social engagement.