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2-Plants: Gujarat (GE) cotton farmers escape 'death trap'

-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Cotton farmers escape 'death trap'
SOURCE: Times of India,
DATE:   1 Jul 2004 

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Cotton farmers escape 'death trap'

VADODARA: Though nearly 3,000 cotton farmers across the country have
committed suicides because of bankruptcy, their counterparts in Gujarat
feel untouched by the tragedy.

There has been no report of any farmer committing suicide in the state
due to crop failure or debts. Many feel there are reasons for
entrepreneurial skills of farmers. Gujarat---the largest producer of
cotton in the country---has skilfully adopted a newer technology to its

"Maharashtra has the maximum 35 lakh hectares of land under cotton
cultivation and Gujarat has only 17 lakh hectares. However, when it comes
to productivity, Gujarat leads with 35 lakh bales (one bale is 175 kg)
which is highest in the country," says Umed Patel, research scientist at
Surat Cotton Research Centre.

"One of the factors influencing the production is that nearly 30 per cent
cotton fields in the state are not dependent on rains. Cotton fields in
Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are dependent on rains," he adds.

There are farmers preferring BT cotton to increase the yield. Out of 17
lakh hectares, BT cotton is used in nearly one lakh acre.

"The cultivation of BT cotton is expected to increase 10 times this year
with more farmers preferring the hybrid variety. BT cotton not only
increases the yield but also avoids use of pesticides. It is popular
because of providing results within 45 to 90 days compared to cultivation
from normal seeds which take around 120 days," says Vipin Patel of the
Gujarat Khedut Sangharsh Samiti.

Also, cotton farmers in Gujarat get a good selling price. Sources in the
industry suggest that cotton price went up to Rs 2,700 last year compared
to Rs 2,200 earlier.

"Farmers benefit from a strong co-operative structure which has a network
at the smallest level. Even banks give credit to farmers. As a result,
money lenders don't have a hold to break the farmers' back here," says KR
Shah, adviser, Gujarat Kapas Utpadak Hit Rakshak Sangh. However, there
are other issues of concern. "There should be a provision to reduce
cotton varieties from 214 to 22 to produce uniform quality," adds Shah.


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