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Web Exclusive | June 2018

Acreage under Bt cotton goes up

The Cotton Advisory Board (CAB) has estimated cotton production for this season (October 2017 to September 2018) to be 370 lakh bales. The CAB had estimated cotton production to be 345 lakh bales and exports at 59 lakh bales for the season when it had met in December.

Production estimates were lower in the beginning of the season as the board expected damage to the crop from bollworm attack. However, State governments took steps to contain the damage, says J Thulasidharan, President, Indian Cotton Federation.

The ICF chief says that there is not much scope for increase in cotton exports. He has  described as conservative CAB’s closing stock estimate of 43 lakh bales. This could rise when the season ends, according to Thulasidharan.

“Cotton position is very comfortable. However, domestic cotton prices are up, reflecting the international trend. There is no reason for the textile mills to panic,” he says. After a surge in the area under Bt cotton last year, cotton cultivation under this high-yielding and genetically-modified seed is set to go up further this year. Acreage under Bt cotton declined significantly from over 95 per cent of the total area under cotton in 2013-14 to below 90 per cent in 2016-17. This happened due to stagnation in yield in the latest Bollgard variety and pest attacks on Bt cotton seeds. Increase in the overall area, however, benefited Bt cotton more than the conventional, hybrid and desi varieties.

Of the total cotton area at 12.44 million hectares for 2017-18, the acreage under Bt is reportedly 11.07 million hectares, which works out to 89 per cent. When compared with the total area of cotton cultivation at 10.82 million hectares, the coverage under Bt cotton stood at 81 per cent (8.77 million hectares) for 2016-17. This means the acreage under Bt cotton went up in 2017-18.
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