Following a multi-year slump, the Philippine cotton industry is anticipating a renaissance through the help of an innovative, science-based crop that farmers began planting this month.
With the introduction of the Bt cotton variety, revival of the local cotton industry is very likely, according to Edison Riñen, regional director of the Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PhilFIDA). The country currently imports all of the cotton required by the local textile industry.
Bt cotton has been genetically engineered to resist the dreaded bollworm (Heliothis armigera), a destructive pest that is partly responsible for the decline of the country’s cotton industry. The crop technology largely replaces the need to control the bollworm through applications of synthetic chemical pesticides, which cause harm to human health and the environment, Riñen said.
The Bt variety is being cultivated in experimental areas as PhilFIDA works on securing approvals for commercial release of the seeds. This year, 26 farmers in Ilocos Norte and a growing number of farmers in Pangasinan are expected to plant Bt cotton, Riñen said.
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