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ECONOMIC BENEFITS OF BT BRINJAL
by C Kameswara Rao, Foundation for Biotechnology Awareness and Education, Bangalore
26-January-2011 via Agbioview
 

A recent ex-ante assessment of Bt brinjal highlights its economic benefits. This referenced and peer reviewed article (the authors thanked three other scientists for 'review and invaluable suggestions'), by three scientists of a public sector institute, the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research (NCAP), under the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi, was published in December 2010, as Brief No. 34 of the NCAP*.

The research, based on field surveys conducted during August-October 2009, was financially supported by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.

As the article is not yet available on the website of NCAP (http://www.ncap.res.in), I am providing here a summary of the main conclusions of this article, which I can send as a PDF file if anyone wants it.

1. The per capita availability of vegetables in India is 190g/day as against the recommended 280g/day. The huge deficit underscores the need for enhanced vegetable production, to raise the levels of their availability and affordability, now hindered by limited arable land and irrigation facilities, all of which make yield increase the principal source of output growth;

2. The study shows that adaption of Bt brinjal significantly reduces insecticide application and losses from the brinjal shoot and fruit borer (SFB), resulting in an increase in marketable yield reducing costs of production;

3. Bt brinjal adoption would add between 30,000 to 119,000 tons to the total production of brinjal, depending upon the extent of cultivation in different areas / States;

4. Absolute annual gain at the country level from Bt brinjal adoption would be about Rs. 577 crore at an adoption level of 15 per cent. It would be about Rs. 1,167 crore at 30 per cent and Rs. 2,387 crore at 60 per cent adoption levels;

5. The farmer is benefitted from lower cultivation costs and increased marketable yield;

6. Sixty per cent of the overall gains would accrue to the consumer on decreased sale price resulting from lower cultivation costs and higher product recovery. The price reduction would also enhance affordability and consumption of this poor man's vegetable;

7. The major benefits from Bt brinjal would accrue to the States of West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar, where the damage from the brinjal SFB is much severe, compared to the other States. The benefits to other States depend upon the area of cultivation and severity of damage from the pest;

8. The open pollinated varieties of Bt brinjal will improve the access of the new product to the poor farmers, without the burden of technology costs;

9. The States that adopt Bt brinjal should ensure that they develop appropriate measures for technology dissemination, product development, and strengthening local infrastructure; and

10. Bt brinjal adoption contributes to improved environmental and human health.

If we take lessons from the maladies associated with marketing Bt cotton, the States and the legitimate dealers of Bt brinjal seed should also put in place mechanisms to protect the farmer from being cheated by black market forces and dealers of illegal / spurious seed. There should be effective agricultural extension programmes to educate the farmer on the Bt brinjal varieties suitable to his land and on appropriate cultivation practices.

The authors cited important publications on the socio-economic benefits of adoption of Bt brinjal but did not highlight in this paper the societal benefits, such as better living standards, health and education, and reduced tension, among the farming community and a healthier product to the consumer, that further accrue from the adoption of Bt brinjal.

-Kumar, S., Lakshmi Prasanna, P.A. and Wonkhade, S. 2010. Economic benefits of Bt brinjal-an ex-ante assessment. Policy brief No. 34. Published by the Director, National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, Indian Council for Agricultural Research, New Delhi, December 2010. 4pp.

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