Govt fixes Bt cotton seed price, reduces royalty fee

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New Delhi, Mar 10: The government has fixed price of Bt cotton seed at Rs 800 per packet (of 450 gram), which include Rs 49 as royalty fee to technology providers, for the 2016-17 season — a move that would beneift farmers but likely to affect the US biotech major Monsanto’s India business.

Farmers bought Bt cotton seeds in the price range of Rs 830-1,000 per packet across the country in 2015-16 season.

The Agriculture Ministry in December last issued an order to control cotton seed prices including trait or royalty value and a committee was set up to recommend the seed price.

In a notification issued on Tuesday, the Ministry has fixed the maximum sale price of Bt cotton seed packets at Rs 800 per packet for bollgard (BG)-II version of Bt cotton hybrid, including Rs 49 for the trait value.

The trait value for BG-II has been drastically cut to Rs 49/packet from the current Rs 183/packet, including tax.

For the BG-I version of Bt cotton hybrid, the maximum sale price has been fixed at Rs 635 per packet with no trait value, the notification added.

Bt cotton seed price as well as trait value fixed by the government is based on suggestion made by the nine-member panel.

Welcoming the decision, National Seed Association of India (NSAI) ED Kalyan Goswami said: “NSAI is pleased to note that the farmers’ voice has been heard. The BG II technology is facing redundancy on the ground”. NSAI has also represented for lowering trait fee as the technology meant to stop pink bollworm is not working, he said.

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The association, however, demanded that the price should be Rs 850 per packet for BG II so that the industry sustains.

Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Ltd spokesperson said: “We are in the process of examining the notification in detail and will be able to comment only after we study the document in its entirety.”

Also, Mayhco Monsanto Biotech Ltd (MMBL), a joint venture firm of Monsanto, in December last challenged the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015 in the Delhi High Court. MMBL has sub-licensed Bt cotton seed technology since 2002 to 50 domestic seed companies.

Last week, US biotechnology major Monsanto had warned of re-evaluating its presence in India and holding back new technology if the government cuts trait fee of Bt cotton seeds drastically through “arbitrary and potentially destructive” interventions.

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