Issue Date: Dec 15, 2011
As vast tracts of cotton fields in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra turn into a suicide belt for farmers, there is increasing worry that the dizzying speed of technological change, both in seeds and pesticides, is leading to a critical problem for Indian farmers. Ever since GM or Bt cotton made its debut in 2002, farmers have been on a technology treadmill that is robbing them of their traditional agricultural wisdom that had earlier stood them in good stead. And scientists and academic researchers are warning that this is at the heart of the problem plaguing cotton cultivators, specially in rain-fed areas of the country where farmers have been trapped in a spiral of increasingly high input costs, although the success of the crop is dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon.
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