Punjab Agriculture University develops Bt cotton variety with reusable seeds
CHANDIGARH: Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has developed the first genetically-modified (Bt) cotton seeds that can be reused, resulting in saving of input cost to farmers.
The new cotton variety is among few others identified by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) for cultivation in North region.
“The notification for these varieties could be out as early as next month after ICAR’s scheduled meeting,” vice chancellor, PAU, Dr Baldev Singh Dhillion said. He said that ICAR has asked the university to put up proposal regarding release of these varieties.
The three Bt cotton varieties include PAU Bt 1, F1861 and RS 2013.
PAU Bt 1 and F 1861 were developed by PAU, whereas, RS 2013 was developed at Rajasthan Agricultural University (RAU), Bikaner. While the PAU Bt 1was completely developed at Punjab Agricultural University, the F 1861 and RS 2013 varieties were converted to Bt version by Central Institute for Cotton Research (CICR), Nagpur.
Dr Dhillon said that the process for multiplying the seeds would be started this year. “We are expecting that by next year we will be able to distribute seeds to farmers for sowing in fields. Surely, by next to next year we will distribute seeds on large scale,” he said.
He said that Bt technology imparts resistance to bollworms, which are a major cause of yield loss in cotton.
He said that with the adoption of these new Bt varieties by the farmers, a major shift is likely to take place in cotton cultivation in northern states.
Dr Pankaj Rathore head, plant breeding, PAU said that varieties will be notified soon after due diligence.
“The varieties included Bollgard-mon 531 event that allows high resistance to cotton pest ball worm and carry cry1Ac gene,” Rathore said.
Cotton is the only genetically-modified seed legally allowed in India. Punjab alone needs around 20-25 lakh packets of Bt cotton seed for sowing of crop which roughly amounts to around Rs 225 crores.
The price of seed of these Bt cotton varieties shall much lower as compared to current market price of Bt cotton hybrids seed, and thus, there is a scope to reduce the cost of cultivation and increase the savings of the farmers, he added.
Source: ECONOMIC TIMES
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