The Centre has marginally lowered the maximum sale price of Bt cotton seeds (BG-II) for a 450-gram packet to Rs 730 for the 2019-20 season. The licence, or trait fee, charged by companies has also been slashed by almost 49 per cent to Rs 20.
The new price of a Bt cotton seed packet weighing 450 grams and 120 grams refugia for the 2019-20 season—October to September—will be Rs 730, including a trait fee of Rs 20. The maximum sale price of Bt cotton seeds in 2018-19 was Rs 740, including trait value of Rs 39.
According to a gazette notification issued recently, for the second consecutive year after the central government started fixing its prices, following recommendations of a committee, the sale price of Bt cotton seeds, along with the trait fee, has been lowered.
The licence fee is inclusive of all taxes. The planting of cotton crop starts in June. For the 2019-20 cotton season, the retail price of BG-I genetically modified cotton seed varieties was not touched, while the licence fee was maintained at zero, as was the case in the previous season. However, it is of little consequence as BG-I cotton is already off-patent.
Lowering the retail price and the licence fee for Bt cotton seed packets (BG-II varieties) for the second year might impact the margins of seed companies, especially original licence holders, as it occupies almost 95 per cent of the country’s cotton market.
Bt cotton seed prices were first lowered in 2016-17 by a panel constituted by the Centre under the Cotton Seeds Price Control Order in December 2015.