Introduction in the early 2000s, genetically modified cotton technology has taken over all of the nation's cotton land and caused traditional non-GM cotton varieties to become extinct.
Farmers preferred modified cotton because it provided defense against pests like pink bollworm, which killed the bolls, and other similar diseases that caused huge losses.
Still, everything is not lost. While non-GM cotton has been grown by farmers on occasion, it only makes up about 2 percent of the nation's cotton land.
Reducing yields (which dropped from 542 kg/ha in 2016-17 to 460 kg/ha in 2019-20) and the pink bollworm becoming resistant prompted some organizations to think about reintroducing conventional types and hybrids free of genetically modified organisms.
to GV Ramanjaneyulu, CEO of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), there is a growing market demand for organically cultivated cotton, and specialty clothing manufacturers are searching for this type of fiber.
favorable field tests
"For the Past two years, we have been conducting field testing, and the outcomes have been encouraging. We have gathered the information and are prepared with seeds for industrial production. The CEO of the Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA), G V Ramanjaneyulu.
In addition to CSA, a few other national groups have joined field trials in states including Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh with the goal of creating novel hybrids and varieties that are mainly non-GM. These trials are being conducted in collaboration with the FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture), an organization headquartered in the European Union that supports organic farming across national borders.
We are receiving yields in the range of six to seven quintals. Seeds are proliferating. Reintroducing non-GM cotton to farmers is the goal, he explained.
No alternative to GM?
Apart from this initiative, CSA is also working on Malkha, a national brand that specializes in handwoven cotton cloththat has been naturally dyed. "
"On about 200 acres in Telangana, we are growing organic cotton," he stated.
However, a senior scientist at Telangana State Agricultural University Prof. Jayashankar stated that while isolated efforts might be made, Bt cotton—which was still providing some protection against pink bollworm—could not be substituted.
We have created a few non-GM hybrids and variations. In certain areas of the Adilabad district, they are in use," he claimed.