Vidarbha experiment with desi cotton to be extended to 10 states
The Central Institute of Cotton Research (CICR) will this year extend its high density plantation system (HDPS) experiment with non-Bt cotton varieties to 10 states in the country. These include both traditional cotton growing states like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Karnataka, and new states like Odisha and West Bengal, informed K R Kranthi, director of the institute.
Talking to DTE, Kranthi said that this was a follow-up on CICR’s last year’s experiments with HDPS in non-Bt cotton in Maharashtra which was carried out on 440 acres (one acre equals 0.4 hectare) of land in eight cotton-growing districts in the state. “We would have liked to keep the experiment within Maharashtra for now,” he said, while adding, “in view of the fact that breeding programmes for compact varieties suitable for HDPS has only just started in India, and it will take us a few years to identify suitable varieties.” Currently, he said that CICR was using existing varieties for its experiments.
Low cost, sustainable option
He said that keen interest from farmers and farmer groups from cotton–growing states like Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh forced CICR to consider an extension. “Our experiment will be carried out on 2,600 acres in ten states, out of which 700 acres belong to farmers who have voluntarily joined the programme.”
He said that the experiment aimed to set up low-cost sustainable system of cotton cultivation for rainfed areas with shallow soil, but that it was too early to compare the results with Bt cotton. “Last year, we got yields varying from 25 to 30 quintals per acre in areas where early sowing was done and good care taken, to a mere 6-7 quintals in other areas,” he said.