Fact Finding Report on Bt cotton (24/10/2007)

Fact Finding Report from Bhongir area of Nalgonda district (Andhra Pradesh),

on the state of Bt Cotton crop


Following many reports of failure of Bt Cotton crop in the Bhongir area of Nalgonda district, a Fact Finding Team [FFT] was constituted by Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) and PEACE (People’s Action for Creative Education), Bhongir to look into the problem and assess the extent of loss, if any.


Fact Finding Team: Sri Narayana Reddy, Ibrahimpur (Farmers’ leader, Former President of BKS and a lawyer); Ms Boolibai, Ms Maroni and Ms Roopa (women’s self help group federation leaders); Sri Nimmaiah and Sri Janardhan (NGO representatives) and Mr Gangadhar and Mr Rajashekar (Agriculture Scientists from CSA).


Date of visit: 19th October 2007


Villages visited: Vangapalli (Yadagirigutta mandal); Cholleru (Yadagirigutta mandal) and Ibrahimpur (Turkapalli mandal).


Methodology adopted: The FFT visited three villages during the day, visited fields and spoke with farmers. They tried a comparative analysis between Bt Cotton and non-Bt Cotton fields wherever possible.


Observations and farmers’ opinion on Bt and Non-Bt Cotton were recorded. Based on the visit, an estimate was made on the losses incurred by farmers.


Findings and Observations:


Observations and farmers’ opinions have been grouped into a few case studies given below, to give a picture of the situation.


Case 1:

Farmer Name    : Ms. Laxmi

Village               : Vangapally

Mandal              : Yadagirigutta

Bt Cotton         : Mahyco Bollgard-II

Area                 : 2 acres

Crop stage       : 4 months

Sowing date     : June 2nd week



  1. Crop completely dried out permanently
  2. Farmer hardly managed to get only one picking (4 quintals from 2 acres)
  3. No further scope for crop recovery
  4. Farmer harvested only 4 quintals whereas expected cotton output was 20 quintals
  5. Economics:
    1. Total cost of cultivation till today (19 Oct) is Rs. 20000 for two acres
    2. Total yield 4 quintals
    3. Total Income Rs 8000 (Rs. 2000/q)
    4. Net Loss is Rs. 12000
    5. Total loss of 16 q (expected yield of 20 q minus obtained 4 q cotton) is worth around Rs. 32000
  6. Severe attack of sucking pest like aphids and mealybug apparent on the crop even after several sprays of pesticides.  
  7. Farmer explained that this is the worst case since his 10 yrs of cotton cultivation experience.

Second case:

Farmer Name    : Ms. Vimalamma

Village               : Cholleru

Mandal              : Yadagirigutta

Bt Cotton         : Sigma Bt, Mahyco Bollgard-II and Rasi Bt

Area                 : 5 acres

Crop stage       : 4 months

Sowing date     : June 1st week





  1. 75 percent field is dried out.
    1. Total cost of cultivation till today (19 Oct) is around Rs. 40000 for five acres (seed cost – Rs. 9000/- in all; De-weeding operations – Rs. 4500/-; Pesticides – Rs. 5400/- for sucking pests; Chemical fertilizers – Rs. 10,000/- Plus other costs)
    2. Total yield 10 quintals (for five acres together)
    3. Total Income Rs 20000 (Rs. 2000/q)
    4. Net Loss is Rs. 10000/-
    5. Total loss of 40 q (expected yield of 50 q minus obtained 10 q cotton) is around Rs. 80000/-.
  2. High incidence of sucking pests observed in the field. Despite several sprays of chemical pesticides, sucking pests could not be controlled.

In the same village and just adjacent to the above Bt Cotton farmer, there is a Non-Bt cotton-growing farmer named Mr. Ellaiah. Following is his experience with Non-Bt Cotton.


Farmer Name    : Mr. Ellaiah

Village               : Cholleru

Mandal              : Yadagirigutta

Bt Cotton         : Sigma Non Bt Cotton (procured through a special indent directly from the company by the local NGO, given the scarcity of non-Bt Cotton seed supply in the market)

Area                 : 1 acre

Crop stage       : 5 months

Sowing date     : June 16th 2007



  1. Crop is in a good condition with bolls and squares and is ready for harvest (first picking).
  2. Farmer followed NPM methods to manage pests and diseases. 

Following table will explain many details about the differences between bt and non-bt crop grown on same piece of land and date of sowings.


Table: 1. BT and non-bt cotton comparison:



BT cotton

Non BT cotton

Farmer Name

Ms. Vimalamma

Mr. Ellaiah








Sigma, Mahyco BG-II and Rasi

Sigma (non bt)

Plant condition

Totally dried

Well growing

No of bolls

25 / plant

50 / plant

No of Squares


15 / plant


First picking harvested 15 days back

About to harvest

Yield during first picking

2 q / acre

3 q / acre (expected)

Expected further yield


5 q / acre (expected)

Crop life expectancy


Lasts for another 2 months

Sucking pest

Aphids and mealy bugs

No Sucking pest


Not observed




No wilting

Plant height

2 feet

4 feet

Pesticide cost

Rs. 2000 per acre (average)

Rs. 200 per acre (NPM)


Third case:

Farmer Name    : Mr. Pentaiah

Village               : Ibrahimpur

Mandal              : Turkapally

Bt Cotton         : Mahyco BG II Bt and Sigma (Non-Bt Cotton)

Area                 : each in one acre

Crop stage       : 4 months

Sowing date     :  June 2st week




  1. Bt and Non bt cotton cultivated in the same piece of the land and side by side
  2. Nearly 80 percent of Bt Cotton crop dried out whereas Non Bt Cotton crop is healthy and growing. The contrast is visible.
  3. 29 bolls were observed in Non Bt cotton whereas lesser number (10-15/plant) of bolls were observed in Bt Cotton.
  4. Farmer finds that NPM methods are cheaper and more effective than chemical method of control.

Fourth case:

Farmer Name    : Mr. Laxmi Narsimha Reddy

Village               : Ibrahimpur

Mandal              : Turkapally

Bt Cotton         : Mahyco BG II bt

Area                 : 1 acre

Crop stage       : 4 months

Sowing date     : June 2st week




  1. 50 percent Bt crop dried out and the crop is also affected by wilt and black arm (leaf vein blackening bacterial disease).
  2. Farmers observed that the disease has originated from Bt Cotton fields and then spread to Non-bt cotton fields.
  3. Bt Cotton fields affected by Black Arm disease were found to be infested particularly highly with sucking pests.



1. Bt and Non Bt Cotton fields right adjacent to each other were found to be in contrasting states – the damage in Bt Cotton fields is visibly high. Such a difference was found clearly in Cholleru village where both Bt Cotton and NPM Cotton (Non Bt and non-pesticidal) fields are next to each other. 

3. Loss in each Bt Cotton plot is estimated to be around 60 to 90 percent of the crop.

4. In terms of value, crop loss estimated by the FFT is around 1.2 crores of rupees, in just 4 villages (2700 acres of Bt Cotton from around 5000 acres are severely affected, wherein the yield is only around 2 quintals on an average per acre, against a conservative expected yield of around six quintals per acre on an average. In value terms, the loss on 4 quintals per acre is around Rs. 8,000/-).

5. Farmers who have experienced this loss believe that this could be because of “seed fault” while a few said that this is because of environmental fluctuations. What is apparent is that this is not the case with Non Bt Cotton.

6. One farmer told this is a disastrous situation for him and that he had never seen this much damage to crop since he started cultivating cotton, around ten years ago.

7. Bt Cotton was also severely affected by black arm disease and leaf spot diseases.


Bt Cotton farmers in the visited region are in serious distress at the end of Kharif growing season of 2007. The FFT confirms that Bt Cotton is affected by sudden drying/wilting, has more sucking pests and diseases like black arm/leaf spot. Further, pesticide use on Bt Cotton is high compared to NPM cotton in the same area and despite several sprays of chemical pesticides for control of sucking pests, the loss to the crop due to these pests is quite high.




The FFT demands that the government of Andhra Pradesh conduct a comprehensive assessment of the losses incurred (extent of area, value of loss etc.) in the entire region and to initiative a process of compensating the farmers for the loss. Further, the official assessment should investigate why Bt Cotton is severely affected whereas non Bt Cotton (NPM) fields are in a better condition quite visibly.


For more information, contact:


1.       Gangadhar Vagmare, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture at [email protected] or (0) 98-666-64050

2.       G Rajashekar, Centre for Sustainable Agriculture at [email protected] or (0) 94-407-33715

3.       K Nimmaiah, PEACE, Bhongir at [email protected] or (0) 98-481-35479


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