Bt cotton attracting youngsters to farming in India: Survey

Contrary to the perception that youngsters are abandoning farming, Bt cotton technology has attracted

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young farmers to cotton farming in the country, a survey by Indian Society for Cotton Improvement (ISCI) said.

The survey confirmed wide-spread planting of Bt cotton, occupying 95% of total cotton area, in the rainfed, semi-irrigated and irrigated areas, which has taken place during the last 8-9 years in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and 6-7 years in Punjab, ISCI said in a release.

"Bt cotton technology attracted young farmers to cotton farming, with more than 50% of the surveyed farmers coming from the lower middle age group in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab," the report said.

The report covered 2,400 small holder farmers across the three agro-ecologically distinct cotton growing states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.

"More than 50% of respondent Bt cotton farmers were from the lower middle age group ranging from 21 to 40 years with a mean average age of 42 years for all respondents in the three surveyed states," it added.

ISCI's survey report -- The Adoption and Uptake Pathways of Bt Cotton in India -- was released today by Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar during seed company Mahyco's golden jubliee celebrations in Jalna (Maharashtra).

Releasing the report, Pawar said: "The unprecedented high adoption of Bt cotton is due to substantial and significant benefits to farmers, successful control of dreaded bollworm pests, benefits to industry."

The benefits from BT cotton have also come to the nation from enhanced exports and coincidentally protection of environment through substantial reductions in pesticide use, he added.

Bt cotton farmers reported an average net profit of Rs 41,837 per hectare at the national level. The highest profit was in the Punjab at Rs 53,139 per hectare followed by Rs 39,786 in Andhra Pradesh and Rs 32,885 per hectare in Maharashtra, the report said.

In the States surveyed a substantial decrease of 82.8% in insecticide sprays was realised, while achieving 99.3% control of the American bollworm pest, it added.

Farmers in Maharashtra reported 78% reduction in insecticide sprays, 82% in Andhra Pradesh and 98% in Punjab, the report said.

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