India’s Bt cotton revolution is a partnership between 6 million farmers and the agriculture industry. This year, Indian farmers celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bollgard® cotton in India.
In 2010, 6 million, or 60 lakh, farmers planted Bt cotton seeds on 90% of India’s total cotton acres. That’s more than 250,000 acres,* up from just 72,000 in 2002. Two of the products making up this 90% -- Bollgard and Bollgard II®. Because of the benefits these technologies bring to the farm, during this time, Indian farmers have earned cumulative benefits of 31,500 rupees each ($636 USD).
Success Stories from the Field
Since 2002, farmer Pradeep Chivane, from Vidarbha, Maharashtra, has cultivated Bollgard cotton on his 1.75 acres. Each year, his yield has increased by 14 quintals per acre (3,086 pounds). He has also had pesticide savings of 3,000 rupees per acre ($58 USD), resulting in a higher income of 10,000 rupees per acre ($194 USD). With the income he earned from planting Bollgard between 2002-2005, Chivane invested in a water pipeline and motor pump. He also built a pucca home for his family and provided better education for his children.
Another farmer in the same region, Daulat Raghoji Ghatod, has also seen the benefits of Bollgard technology. Ghatod, an 8-acre farmer, has increased his yields by nine quintals per acre from Bollgard cotton seeds. This helped him earn a higher income of 8,000 rupees per acre ($155 USD), while saving 3,000 rupees per acre ($58 USD) in pesticide costs. In 2005, he purchased a sprinkler set, and in 2009, he bought a motorcycle and provided for his daughter’s marriage, thanks to the additional income he’s earned since switching to Bollgard technology.
Chivane and Ghatod are among the 6 million farmers who have been part of the white gold revolution, or the doubling of India’s cotton production from 2002-2008.
White Gold Revolution
In 2001, India was a large importer of cotton. But within seven years of Bollgard’s introduction, India became the world’s second-largest producer and exporter of cotton. Today, India’s share of world cotton production is up 68%, and exports are at an all-time high.
By embracing Bt cotton technologies, cotton farmers have helped reduce insecticide use by 20,000 metric tons annually, reducing agriculture’s impact on the environment and saving billions of liters of water.
Adoption of Bollgard II Technology
Today, many cotton farmers are rapidly upgrading from the first-generation Bollgard technology to the second-generation product, Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech’s (MMB) Bollgard II. In 2010 alone, farmers cultivated Bollgard II on 60% of India’s cotton acres.
The Farmer’s Partner in Progress
Bollgard has been Indian farmers’ pragati ka saathi (partner in progress), as it has increasingly helped Bt cotton farmers enjoy a higher standard of living. With the combination of higher yields and reduced pesticide costs, India’s cotton farmers have increased their incomes. And with this additional money, they are able to purchase vehicles, provide education for their children, afford better housing for their families and purchase farm equipment. Additionally, because these farmers have additional income, they are able to put resources back into their villages’ economies. Therefore, villages where farmers are planting Bt cotton have seen improvements in access to services, such as telephone systems, electricity, drinking water, better internet connectivity, banking services, and better access to markets – things many around the world take for granted.