Under the new regulated cropping system, farmers in Telangana have grown cotton on 60 lakh acres, setting a new record. Timely rains and sumptuous water resources accrued due to the new irrigation projects put the cotton farmers in an advantageous situation.
But the farmers’ union leaders are worried that nearly a tenth of the cotton crop is covered by HT (herbicide tolerant) cotton, which doesn’t have any legal sanction. It is being grown on about 5-6 lakh acres in the State, with the farmers getting access to the seed from across the State borders.
Asked whether reports of the rampant plantation of HT cotton is true, S Malla Reddy, Vice-President of All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), said illegal HT cottonseeds continue to sneak into the State, putting the interests of farmers in danger.
The State government, however, dismissed the allegations, saying there is no such enumeration of the extent of HT cotton cultivation in the State. “It is a wild imagination. No such statistics are available with anyone. We have conducted widespread raids and booked cases against those selling the HT cottonseeds,” said B Janardhan Reddy, Commissioner of Agriculture (Telangana).
“We have conducted raids on peddlers of spurious seeds, which include HT cottonseeds, filed cases and arrested over 100 people so far. We take stringent action on the offenders,” he said.