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BT Cotton with Reusable Seeds

Bathinda: Indian Cotton farmers may get two home-grown BT cotton seeds that they would not have to purchase every year. PAU board of management member Satbir Singh Gosal claimed that Ludhiana-headquartered Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has become the first agriculture research institute in India to develop two varieties of BT cotton whose plant's seed can be used in the next season too.

This was the first that such seeds had been developed in the country, said Pankaj Rathore, PAU's Faridkot research station director, while speaking at an interaction with farmers at PAU's regional research station in Bathinda.

Rathore said that, farmers would save on the cost of purchasing cotton seeds of hybrid varieties by using the F1861 and PAU BT1 strains. These varieties will be discussed at a meeting of All India Coordinated Research Project (AICRP) on cotton in Coimbatore on April 8. In the next two months, it will be sent to its genetic-engineering appraisal committee (GEAC) for approval.

By 2018, PAU is hoping that the two varieties would be available to farmers. PAU scientists claimed these varieties would be out of patent, unlike the Monsanto-patented hybrid strains.

A 450-gram packet of the hybrid BT cotton variety costs Rs 800 to a farmer at present. Two packets are used per acre. Farmers using the two PAU varieties could end up saving Rs 1,600 per acre, if all goes according to plan.

The F1861 variety was developed in collaboration with the Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur, said Gosal. "The PAU BT1 variety has been wholly developed by us. We will discuss about these varieties at the Coimbatore meet and send these to GEAC in the next two months. We hope to start providing these to farmers in 2018."


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