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New report on Bt cotton problems in India (8/11/2005)

Recently we circulated a report on the problems with Bt cotton in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, where large scale problems with wilt are being experienced with Bt cotton.
http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=5876

Now we have a new report on some of the severe problems being found in Andhra Pradesh.

EXCERPTS FROM THE NEW REPORT:

In the case of those farmers who had sown Bunny Bt Cotton, the seed did not germinate properly...

Other Bt-cotton fields are severely infested with the sucking pest complex - jassids, aphids and thrips...

...the boll size, number of bolls and cotton weight in Bt-hybrids is less compared to non-Bt Cotton hybrids

Bt Cotton is severely affected by leaf curl and reddening of leaf was found as a result of both damage by jassids and leaf curl of TSV [Tobacco Streak Virus] transmitted by thrips [the incidence of TSV on Bt Cotton has been confirmed by various agencies...]

...[very close] non-Bt cotton fields are affected by these pests and diseases to a very low degree.

The overall growth of the Bt-crop was stunted... However, other non-Bt hybrid crops in the vicinity have grown above three feet... Farmers say they can expect a good crop from non-Bt fields.
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From Kavitha Kuruganti of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in Andhra Pradesh

Please find [below] a report of the visit of a Fact Finding Team to Adilabad district in Andhra Pradesh where villages in four blocks of the district were visited by the Team to look into the performance of Bt Cotton here. The team included eminent agriculture scientist and Advisor to the Andhra Pradesh Government, Dr K R Chowdhary.

kavitha kuruganti
(0)9393001550
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Report of a Fact-Finding Team's visit on performance of Bt Cotton in Adilabad district, Andhra Pradesh [26th & 27th October, 2005]

Objective: To investigate into the widespread disease and pest damage in Bt Cotton being reported by farmers in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh. This effort is part of the monitoring of Bt Cotton by the MEC [Monitoring & Evaluation Committee] set up for the purpose .

Day One [26th October, 2005] - Kuntala and Sarangapur mandals

A 6-member team consisting of Dr. K R. Choudhary (Retd Prof. of Agricultural Economics and Adviser, Government of Andhra Pradesh in various programmes related to Agriculture and Member, Farmers’ Welfare Commission set up by the Government of Andhra Pradesh); Mr. Ramprasad and Mr G. Raja Shekar (Agricultural Scientists from CSA); Mr. A.P. Rao, Agricultural Scientist cum Head of CEAD, an NGO; Mr. Vinod and Ms. Vijaya Lakshmi, Field Coordinators from CEAD, a group of Bt Cotton- and Non Bt Cotton-growing farmers along with representatives from electronic media (TV9 crew) visited the village Thurati in Kuntala mandal and village Jam in Sarangapur mandal on 26th October 2005, to look into the incidence of pest and disease problems in cotton. The visit was prompted by reports emerging from the district on the apparent failure of Bt Cotton and farmers complaining about problems including low yields from Bt Cotton.

The team had a discussion with the cotton farmers of the villages to have an understanding about the performance of Bt and Non-Bt cotton. Farmers have sown different Bt cotton hybrids sold by various companies as well as illegal/unbranded Bt Cotton hybrids. Later the team visited the Bt Cotton and Non Bt Cotton fields along with farmers to verify the claims and promises made by the companies while marketing their Bt-cotton seed to farmers regarding pest resistance, reduction of pesticide sprays and higher yields.

Findings:

* This season, the rainfall has been adequate and the incidence of bollworms is negligible in the region. Thurati has good black cotton soils and falls under regular cotton growing area. In the village, many farmers have sown both Bt Cotton (mainly, RCH 2 Bt) and Non Bt-cotton (Brahma) hybrids in their fields. Bt Cotton is severely affected by leaf curl and reddening of leaf was found as a result of both damage by jassids and leaf curl of TSV [Tobacco Streak Virus] transmitted by thrips [the incidence of TSV on Bt Cotton has been confirmed by various agencies like CICR, ICRISAT and ANGRAU from Adilabad too, along with other districts in AP; as has been noted by various reports, this is an unusual phenomenon on cotton, since TSV is known to infest sunflower and groundnut, and the incidence of the phenomenon has been higher on Bt Cotton, even as per official reports]. The very adjacent non-Bt cotton fields are affected by these pests and diseases to a very low degree.

* The overall growth of the Bt-crop was stunted with limited vegetative growth and plants did not grow above 3 feet height. Bt hybrids have very few sympodial branches and the number of bolls were found to be in the range of 10-30 - all the farmers have lost hopes on their Bt crops. However, other non-Bt hybrid crops in the vicinity have grown above three feet with very few reddened leaves, with numerous sympodial branches, with plants having 45 -50 bolls and many flowers at different growth stages. Farmers say they can expect a good crop from non-Bt fields.

* A farmer Mr. Chennayya (40) who has sown Bt cotton (Rasi-2), has incurred 100% loss, as his field was found to be stunted in growth of the crop, totally reddened without any greenery. The crop has small bolls with an average of 8-10 per plant, which are not opened. He has lost hopes and decided to plough out the 90 days' old cotton crop without even a single picking and go in for some minor millets.

* It was also noticed that some farmers who have sown unbranded / illegal Bt hybrids have also been affected adversely. For instance, a farmer Mr. Bheemanna who has sown 2 acres of these Bt seeds on his land has realized about 10 bolls per plant on his crop.

* From the discussion with the farmers it is evident that the situation of other farmers was not different. Mr. Muthyam (35), who has sown both Bt and non-Bt cotton felt the craze for Bt Cotton has resulted in the obvious "punishment" for them. One young farmer Mr. Gangaram (25) expressed his grief saying "Bt thechukuni beemari thechukunnam (we bought Bt and invited the disease)," and "after having seen, this no farmer from this village would go for Bt-cotton".

* In the village Jam in Sarangapur mandal, the condition of Bt-cotton crop was found to be not much different. Farmers here have sprayed severa

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