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Crop Biotech Update

Indian Farmers Willing to Pay More for Bt Eggplant Hybrids than for Conventional Seeds

September 7, 2007

An economic analysis has determined that Indian farmers are willing to pay four times more for Bt eggplant hybrids than for conventional varieties. The study, conducted by Vijesh Krishna and Matin Qaim, indicated that is partly due to savings that the farmer are likely to incur due to reduction of pesticide inputs. The Bt hybrids were estimated to require about seven times less pesticide than the conventional counterparts as determined in field trial experiments.

India is expected to be the first country to commercialize Bt eggplant. The first hybrid varieties were developed by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seed Company (MAHYCO). Other open pollinated varieties (OPV) are being developed by the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), but these will be released around two to three years after the Bt hybrids become available in the market.

Krishna and Qaim concludes that the OPVs will benefit more resource-poor eggplant farmers in India since seed costs will be more affordable. They also encourage continuing public-private collaboration to facilitate technology approval processes for such proprietary technologies.

For more details, the paper published in the journal Food Policy can be accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2006.11.002