NASHIK: Even as the government
continues with moratorium on biotech crops, a leading seed
company has contended that Bt brinjal hybrids have greater
resistance to pests and significantly higher yield.
This has been demonstrated after field tests in more than
50 locations that represent major brinjal growing regions
in India during 2004 to 2008, Usha Barwale, Chief Technology
Officer of leading private sector seed company Mahyco, told
a team of visiting journalists.
Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Orissa,
Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal are the main brinjal
She said during multi-location research trials, various
parametres were assessed such as damage caused to insects,
yield of marketable fruit, insecticide usage and economic
( Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited), which was
first company to commercialise hybrid cotton,has developed
insect-tolerant Bt brinjal after success of Bt cotton.
She said that a major insect-pest 'fruit and shoot borer
( FSB)' attacks brinjal crop throughout the life-cycle and
is estimated to cause yield losses of up to 60-70 per cent
even after repeated insecticide sprays.
"The results of the field evaluations indicate that
the mean shoot damage was significantly lower in Bt brinjal
hybrids (1.51 per cent) as compared to their non-Bt counterpart
(7.06 per cent)," she added.
Mahyco, which is sharing its Bt brinjal technology with
public sector institutions of India and abroad (US), is
also conducting field trials of the crop in Bangladesh and
Highlighting the agronomic performance of Bt brinjal, Bharat
R Char, lead Biotechnology, Mahyco research, said Bt brinjal
hybrid yielded significantly higher marketable yield in
all trial models.
"Mean marketable yield for Bt hybrids was 404.91 quintal
per hectare as compared to 236.84 quintal per hectare in
non-Bt counterpart," he said.
Underlining economics of Bt brinjal, the two said that
Institute of Vegetable Research ( IIVR), Varanasi, estimated
good economic benefit values during LSTs (large scale trials)
conducted at 21 locations across 10 states during 2007-2008.
Savings in insecticides costs were derived using economic
threshold level (ETL) based sprays. ETL were assessed at
each picking during the entire crop period.
"The fruit and shoot borer damage crossed ETL 0.94
times in Bt hybrids while it crossed ETL 7.44 and 7.40 times
in Bt counterparts," Usha said.