If India is to reverse the rapid decline in its cotton exports … it is clear it needs another big break in terms of productivity, the kind it first got when Monsanto technology first came into the country. Whether that will happen, however, remains unclear since Monsanto has already said it has no plans to now to bring in its Bollgard III technology.
The move follows a series of measures to arm-twist it. In December 2015, for reasons that are not clear since farmers were benefitting from Monsanto’s technology, the government came out with a cotton seed pricing order to lower the prices of seed sold by it, from around Rs 930 per bag to Rs 800. And while doing so, the order ensured the bulk of the reduction was borne by Monsanto since, as part of this order, the royalty or trait fee embedded in the seed price was reduced from Rs 170 or so per bag to Rs 49.
Whether the government will choose to reduce the royalty to zero is not clear, but it needs to keep in mind that farmers need good seed technology to get more productivity and to deal with the effects of extreme climate change—instead of driving out Monsanto, it needs to find ways to bring it back in.