10 YEARS OF BT COTTON IN KARNATAKA: WHITHER OTHER COTTON?
– 1-day state level workshop on March 29th 2012, IAT, Queen’s Road, Bangalore
On March 26th 2002, official approval was accorded to the commercial release of Bt cotton in India, for these GM seeds to be cultivated in six states initially – Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu (all three in the Southern Zone), Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat (in the Central Zone). Earlier, in 2001, thousands of hectares of cotton land in Gujarat were found to have been planted with illegal Bt cotton seeds by the farmers there and the apex regulatory body of the country – Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (subsequently renamed as Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee in 2010, after an indefinite moratorium was placed on Bt brinjal) decided to allow the first GM crop into the country soon afterwards.
Farmers in the state used to grow Jayadhar, Suyodhar etc., in addition to hybrids like DCH 32, Varalaxmi and so on, before the advent of Bt cotton. A unique combination of growing varieties like Jayadhar along with chilli crop exists in this state. There has been a large scale shift to Bt cotton in various cotton growing pockets of the state over the years and Karnataka also has pockets where proprietary Bt cotton seed production is taken up with farmers by different companies on a contract farming basis. However, an overwhelming majority of cotton farmers/area is still under rainfed conditions.
There are varying views and materials of evidence around the performance of Bt cotton in the state of Karnataka, like in the case of other states. Official data on yields shows fluctuating trends especially the top five cotton growing districts of Karnataka.
Meanwhile, given that the state of Karnataka was one of the first to adopt an Organic Farming policy in the entire country, and given that a diversity of cotton cultivars used to exist in this state, it is a matter of interest to many to take a look at the current state of cotton cultivation in the state. Stakeholders interested in environmental conservation including biodiversity conservation, sustainable livelihoods and promotion of ecological farming are coming together in organizing a one-day state-level workshop on “10 Years of Bt Cotton in Karnataka: Whither Other Cotton?” in this context, on March 29th 2012 at IAT, Queen’s Road, Bangalore.
This workshop will have discussions centred around presentations made by experts on the past ten years of cotton cultivation in Karnataka and changing trends, the situation with regard to cotton diversity in the state today and in the past, the experiences with regard to organic cotton cultivation and so on, in addition to a Panel Discussion led by eminent experts from the state. Further, the opportunity provided by the workshop will also be used to felicitate a farmer conserving cotton diversity in a unique endeavour of this kind.
The broad structure for the workshop will consist of:
11.00 – 11.30 am Inauguration and Felicitation of farmer conserving cotton diversity
11.45 – 01.00 pm Review of past 10 years of cotton crop in the state and presentation of recent findings from 3 districts of the state
02.00 – 04.30 pm Presentations on Status of Cotton Diversity in Karnataka, experiences of Organic cotton cultivation and marketing, sharing of experience by farmers growing Jayadhar and other cultivars, university’s efforts at revival of diversity etc.
04.30 – 05.15 pm PANEL DISCUSSION (a farmers’ leader, an agriculture scientist, an eminent organic farmer, a senior journalist, an NGO representative, a consumer group representative, biodiversity conservationist and state biodiversity board representative)