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BKS Study Confirms Benefits of Bt Cotton to Indian Small Farmers

The study on the "Socio-Economic Impact Assessment of Bt Cotton in India" jointly undertaken by the Council for Social Development (CSD) and Bharat Krishak Samaj (BKS) confirms that cotton production in India has risen substantially with the use of the hybrid Bt cotton seeds resulting in benefiting small farmers and helping the country to become net exporter of cotton in the world. The study concludes that the overall production of cotton has grown by 9.25 percent since introduction of Bt cotton in 2002-03 and farmers' income jumped up by nearly 375 percent.

The study also reported a steep decline in pesticide consumption by 23 percent in the Post-Bt cotton period (2002 to 2009) when compared to the Pre-Bt cotton period (1996 to 2001). Similarly, the study also reported a substantial gain to small farmer for growing Bt cotton, with an average net returns from Bt cotton at the all India level to be as high as Rs.65307.82 per hectare equivalent to US$1300 per ha. The per hectare net returns were scale neutral across farm size classes. Further, it was also found that the total income or net returns from Bt cotton was much higher than income from other non-farm sources. According to the study, 85 percent of farmers and landless labourers invested in better quality education for their children and 77 percent reported intake of high value and nutritious food.

Notably, the study clearly delinked the farmers suicides from Bt cotton and blamed the suicides mainly on low and erratic nature of rainfall, unavailability of timely credit and fluctuating cotton prices over the years that made production risky in certain years. As timely availability of institutional credit was a challenge, farmers depended more on non-institutional sources of credit such as money lenders, arhatiyas (middle men), relatives and friends. Non-institutional credit was easily accessible but had a higher rate of interest.

The study was undertaken to validate farmers' experience using Bt cotton in nine cotton growing states of India in 2009-2010 by surveying more than 1050 farmers and 300 agricultural laborers.

A copy of the study is available at: http://farmersforum.in/policy/study-on-socio-economic-impact-assessment-of-bt-cotton-in-india/. For more news about biotechnology in India, contact Bhagirath Choudhary at b.choudhary@cgiar.org.


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This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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