There has been a major dip in demand for Bt cotton in India and farmers across the country have shown a marked preference for locally-grown varieties.
Against the 3,000-odd hectares that usually came under local varieties of cotton last year, this season around 72,280 hectares have come under locally grown varieties. Local cotton, which is resistant to diseases like leaf curl virus and pest attacks such as whiteflies, accounted for seven per cent of the total cotton acreage of 10.17 lakh hectares in north India this year. The acreage under local cotton is expected to increase to 25 per cent in the next two to three years.
With the monsoon covering most cotton-growing regions of the country, planting across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh has picked up pace and farmers are trying to complete sowing operations before the cut-off dates.
The overall acreage across the country could come down to some 105 to 110 lakh hectares. The area under cotton cultivation was 119 lakh hectares in 2015-16.
The cut-off date for cotton sowing is around July 10 and can be extended to July 15, after which the growth of cotton becomes stunted.
Before the advent of Bt cotton in India, some 25 lakh hectares were under locally-grown varieties.