African Delegation Visits Indian Bt Cotton FarmersNovember 23, 2016
A high-level delegation consisting of parliamentarians, government executives, scientists, cotton sub-sector players and the media from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Swaziland, and Zambia visited Bt cotton fields in Maharashtra State of India on November 15, 2016. Indian cotton farmers led by farmer Shivaji Bhagal of Aurangabad district showcased the extra-long staple Bt cotton to Ethiopian State Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Mr. Yimama Zekarias Serkola; Hon. Massa Almaz Messele, the chairperson, parliamentary standing committee of agriculture affairs; and Hon. Haile Jembernesh Kinfe, vice-chairperson, Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Environment. The Bt cotton farmers exchanged and shared their experiences and the socio-economic impact of growing Bt cotton for the last decade. They proudly narrated how they have been able to take their children to English school, buy smart phones, motorbikes, and build permanent houses.
The African delegation also visited the hybrid Bt cotton seed production plot of smallholder farmer Prabhakar Dhondiba Gaikwad of Tandulwadi village, Jalna district of Maharashtra. They were impressed by the expertise and highly skilled women farmers in emasculation and pollination of cotton parents to produce high quality hybrid Bt cotton seeds. Indian smallholder women farmers produce hundreds of thousands tonnage of Bt cotton hybrids each year sufficient to plant 95% of total cotton area currently standing at >10 million hectares. The hybridization of Bt cotton seeds provide job employment to millions of smallholder women farmers, and landless laborers in India, while ensuring purity of seed planted. The study tour aimed at showcasing Indian Bt cotton farming experiences and the country's model biotech crops regulation and commercialization processes with a view to fast track lessons that could be replicated in Africa. The importance and contribution of cotton-textile industry and Bt cotton oil in the Indian economy were also demonstrated.
The high delegation is part of the annual series of exchange and outreach programs under the India-Africa Agriculture Engagement, which is generously supported by ISAAA AfriCenter, Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern & Southern Africa (ACTESA/COMESA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the South Asia Biotechnology Centre (SABC).
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