India is expected to unveil in November two . . . cotton varieties that will cost less than other hybrids but give higher yields, as well as resist whitefly, pink bollworm and leaf curl virus that often damage the crop in the country. These seeds, which will compete with US multinational Monsanto’s Bollgard II, will likely be distributed to farmers starting next year.
The long-staple local or desi seeds and short-duration American cotton varieties were developed by the Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR) in Nagpur. . . .
The cost of the 14 long-staple desi varieties is half that of Bt cotton hybrid. . . The output will be similar or more than the Bt cotton hybrid . . . while the fibre quality will be similar, [CICR Director KR Kranthi said.]
The desi varieties will offer better pest resistance. . . .
In the American cotton, . . . seeds can be reused by farmers and will cost Rs 150-200 kg compared with Rs 2,000 for the Bt-cotton hybrid, Kranthi said.
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Indigenously developed genetically modified cotton seeds could change the complexion of the market. It will provide farmers with choice and drive down costs. The government must support other similar efforts . . . .
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