In India, there is an urgent need for a shift towards ecologically and financially sustainable cotton
Author: Anita Chester | Published: June 25, 2018
India is the largest producer of cotton and the crop is of significant importance to the economy. Closely woven into the cotton story is the fate of over 6 million small and marginal farmers who plant this crop annually.
However, today, we have reached a point of inflection. The so-called successes of past decades heralded by the hasty adoption of transgenic Bt technology are being eclipsed by the recurrence of pest attacks, worsened by unsustainable land and water use. The growing resistance to pests, such as the pink bollworm, and an alarming rise of secondary pests, suggests that there has been an increase of pesticide use.
Other factors like erratic rainfall, poor extension services, dubious seed quality and lack of credit at reasonable rates, aggravate and worsen the situation for farmers who are not able to cover the increasing costs of production. Poor returns and debt cycles are thus driving cotton farmers to despair, and at times, death.