Bt cotton - "no major fall in pesticide consumption" (12/6/2006)

India's pesticide industry says it is pretty relaxed about Bt cotton becaue it's not causing any significant drop in pesticide use and what drop there is has been offset by an increase in herbicide use it seems to have triggered.

Bt cotton acreage up, but no major fall in pesticide consumption
Source: IRIS NEWS DIGEST, 12 June 2006

The acreage under Bt cotton is increasing, but for now at least, the country's crop protection industry isn`t worried. It does not expect a drastic fall in pesticide consumption, reports Business Line.

The real worry would be when over 20 million hectares of land go under genetically modified crop.

Total land under cultivation in India is around 140 million hectares. Of this, 9 million hectares are under cotton cultivation and land under Bt cotton is 1.5 million hectares for the 2005/2006 season. Cotton is the largest consumer of agrochemicals among the crops sown in India.

The consumption of insecticide has edged down because Bt cotton is not afflicted by insects such as bollworm or caterpillar. But the use of herbicide has gone up as there is problem of weed in Bt cotton.

Pesticide sale during the 2005-2006 fiscal year is estimated to be lower at Rs 35 billion from the previous year`s sales of Rs 38-40 billion. One of the main reasons recognised for lower sales was continuous rains during the last sowing season leaving very little chance for pests to grow.

Rallis India, in its annual report of 2005-2006, said that continuous rains resulted in long pest-free crop scenario and inability of growers to undertake pesticides sprays against pests and diseases. At the current juncture, the impact of Bt cotton is yet to be felt in a major way on the sale of agro chemicals. But most agrochemical companies are aware of the challenges posed by the increase in the land under Bt cotton.


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