Study Finds Higher Yields & Lower Production Costs with Organic Cotton
GM WATCH , Sept 28, 2006
Straight to the Source
With India’s indebted cotton farmers taking their own lives in ever increasing numbers after being ruined by expensive Bt seeds and other input costs, here’s an eye catching study on organic cotton production in India.
Over a period of two years, an Indo-Swiss research team collected and compared agronomic data on 60 organic and conventional farms.
They found the organic producers benefitted from:
* 40% lower costs for inputs
* 13-20% lower variable production costs
* a far lower need to take up loans
* total labour inputs that were not significantly higher
* and 4-6% higher average cotton yields
There were, of course, some problems to be overcome but there is now a rapidly expanding international market for organic cotton – with even the likes of Wal-Mart and Levis getting in on the act.
And this research comes on the heels of the still more striking findings of a study undertaken by the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture in India which found Bt cotton cultivation lead to 690% higher costs for pest management when compared to growing conventional cotton varieties with the help of bio-pesticides and natural control agents.
And then there’s the remarkable success of the Punukula village initiative in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, which has been so overwhelmingly successful in enabling the growing of cotton without Bt seeds or any pesticides that it is now being taken as a model to hundreds of other villages in the state.
Andhra Pradesh is, of course, the same state in which farmers went on the rampage in fury at the disappointing results they had from GM cotton and where 3 varieties of Monsanto’s Bt cotton had to be banned they were so problematic.
The Indian government has an increasingly clear choice. It can get behind such approaches and help farmers escape the debt-trap and end the burgeoning scandal of farm suicides, or it can continue to cosy up to Bush and Monsanto and hype expensive GM crops to its farmers.