Cotton provides livelihood to more than 60 million people in India by way of support in agriculture, processing, and use of cotton in textiles. It is an important element of the agriculture GDP contributing 29.8%. In terms of quantity, India is the third largest producer of cotton. Compared to other countries yield is substantially low. The major reason for the low productivity is due to damage caused by insect pests, mainly American Bollworm. Farmers need to invest heavily in pesticides (worth Rs 12 billion) to control the same. As a solution, Bt cotton technology in India was introduced by Mahyco (Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company), in collaboration with Monsanto. Bt cotton has already been commercialized in six countries: the United States (1996), Australia (1997), South Africa (1997), Argentina (1998), Mexico (1996), China (1998), and Indonesia (2000).
In India, Bt cotton now constitutes nearly 90% of total area under cotton cultivation. The state wise cotton crop data released by the ministry for 2010-11 has shown that Bt cotton has emerged as the largest cotton crop in all the major cotton producing states.
Slowly Bt cotton is appearing to improve the productivity, though there are arguments that it is not appropriate for rain-fed areas. However, the improvement in overall production of 334.25 lakh bales in 2011 compared to previous year’s 242.25 lakh bales; while the cultivation areas has more or less remained constant (110 lakh hectares) indicates that perhaps there is a need to further study the impact of Bt cotton.
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