Maharashtra government has banned the advance booking of Bt cotton seeds. Major companies are not supplying Bt cotton seeds to farmers despite advance bookings, said senior officials. Farmers usually deposit high amounts with dealers because of concern over rising prices and find that they do not get seeds on time, and Retailers end up facing problems, said officials. State agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said the move would prevent artificial shortage of the seeds since they are in available in plenty.
Approximate sale of Bt cotton seeds in 2011-12 season was at 4.2 crore packets. This year, the market size is likely to be around 3.8 crore packets to 4 crore packets as cotton acreage may come down from a little over 12 million hectare in 2011-12 to about 11 million hectare next year, officials said. Last year, the department had estimated a seed demand of 1.80 crore packets of 450 gram each while seed companies had supplied 2.14 crore packets. The actual consumption was at 1.63 crore packets.
Earlier, state agriculture commissioner Umakant Dangat had complained that farmers in Maharashtra have been complaining of shortage of certain varieties of Bt cotton seeds. The government of Maharashtra, however, is going all out to promote other varieties and is encouraging farmers to tap these, he had said.
The government had taken action against Mahyco for supplying only 7-10% of bookings, leading to dissatisfaction among farmers resulting in a ban on the company to sell seeds in Maharashtra, officials pointed out. The sale licence of another six companies have been suspended by the government for a year.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the government had paid R2,000 crore to cotton farmers in Vidharbha as compensation. He said he had spoken to union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar about the cotton purchasing centres so that farmers were not inconvenienced, adding that farmers should be setting a good price.