Farmers earn a premium for their islands of organic cotton

The 125 lakh hectares of natural fiber in India are planted with cotton, but only 12% of that cotton is organic. With the organic variant, though, islands of ongoing studies show promise. In order to obtain 400 tonnes of organic cotton during the 2022–2023 kharif season, 3,000 tribal farmers have gathered under the auspices of Grameena Vikas Kendram, a non­governmental organization that works with tribal farmers in north­coastal Andhra Pradesh.

While other farmers in the area in Telangana have opted for transgenic cotton, KV Ramana Reddy has steadfastly resisted the temptation of Bt cotton for more than 20 years. “By using natural farming practices, I’m saving 80 percent of every 100 dollars that other farmers spend. Furthermore, Reddy, who cultivates cotton on 25 acres in Karvanga village, Nagarkurnool district, adds that he now receives $1,000–1,500 more for each quintal of organic cotton that he sells.

Reddy uses natural farming methods to cultivate a number of other crops, including pulses, paddy, and chilies, inspired by Subhash Palekar’s Zero Budget Farming. He just signed a 10-tonne deal for his organic cotton with a specialist fabric firm in Hyderabad.

The cultivation of organic cotton, which showed promise a few years ago, didn’t take off properly for a number of reasons, according to GV Ramanjaneyulu, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Sustainable Agriculture. Apart from farmers’ waning enthusiasm, a significant obstacle is a contamination (natural crops contaminated by transgenic crops).

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