For the second time in two years, Maharashtra government has initiated a process to ban Mahyco-Monsanto Biotech (MMB) from selling Bt cotton seeds in the state for black-marketeering.
The state’s agriculture minister Radhakrishna Vike Patil told Governance Now that several notices were issued to the company, an FIR was lodged (in Beed district) and even the company’s country-head was arrested (who is out on bail now) for “black-marketing” the seeds. Hearings will be held next week before an official ban is announced.
Patil said, last year 16 FIR were registered against the same company and it was banned for similar activities. He accused the company was bypassing the government and conniving with the traders to fleece the farmers.
Bt cotton seeds are available in the state though because MMB has sub-licensed Bt technology to 40 Indian seed companies across the country. The ban wouldn’t stop those companies from selling seeds.
On its part, MMB spokesman Sanjay Despande says the market price of only one variety of Bollgard II seeds (called 7351 variety) has gone up because of short supply and high demand.
Kishore Tiwari of Vidarbha Jan Andilan Samiti, which has been agitating against Bt Cotton, which it holds primarily responsible for farmers’ suicide in the state, however, says the company is known for dubious marketing activities to cheat farmers. He says seeds have been diverted to Andhra Pradesh where these are being sold at double the declared price.