AP Govt refuses to hike BT cotton seed price

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Hyderabad, Apr 11 (UNI) Andhra Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy has turned down the demand of multinational and domestic companies to hike the price of genetically-modified 'BT-cotton' variety I and II in the state, Agriculture Minister N Raghuveera Reddy said today.

Briefing newspersons after a meeting with the company representatives here, he said the Chief Minister stood firm even as the companies pressed for hiking the price of BT cotton from the present Rs 750 per 450 gm packet to Rs 925 as in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

After examination by agricultural scientists, the government had insisted that even BT-cotton-II seeds, which would enable farmers to reduce one spray of pesticides, should be supplied only at Rs 750 per packet, he said.

Farmers in the state had received a benefit of Rs 414 crore after the government fought a legal battle successfully against a multinational seed manufacturer during 2006-07 and got the price of BT cotton seeds reduced from Rs 1,850 per packet to Rs 750 per packet, he said.

The area under BT cotton cultivation was only 3,762 hecatres (0.47 per cent of the total area under cotton cultivation) in 2002-03 when the Centre gave its nod for cultivation of the gentically-modified crop. The area had gone up to 10.68 lakh hectares in 2007-08, accounting for 91.03 per cent of the total area under cotton cultivation, he said.

Mr Reddy said 28.29 lakh packets of BT cotton-I and 14.23 lakh packets of BT cotton-II were kept ready for supply to farmers for the Kharif season.

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