The industry has sought a 10 per cent increase in price because of rising input costs. Some manufacturers have sought pricing freedom.
Last year, the government had fixed the price of Bt cotton seeds at Rs 730 per 450 gm package, which was 1.35 per cent lower than the previous year’s, to bring in pricing parity across states.
India, the world’s biggest cotton producer, grew cotton on 12,767,000 hectares in 2019-20, about 600,000 hectares more than the previous year. Mahyco Monsanto Biotech provided the bollgard technology to 45 cotton seed producers which included Rasi Seeds, Nuzivedu Seeds, Kaveri seeds, Bayer India and Mahyco, among others.
“We will be taking a decision on cotton seed prices after discussions with industry and farmer representatives. A meeting is expected in a fortnight with the stakeholders, post which the gazette notification will be issued,” said an official of the agriculture ministry, adding that some seed manufacturers have made representations for higher price.
The ministry had issued the Cotton Seed Price (Control) Order, 2015, under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955. In 2016-17, Bt cotton seed prices were first lowered by a panel constituted by the Centre. Since then, except in 2017-18, prices have been reduced.
Both the National Seed Association of India (NSAI) and Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) have asked the government to raise cotton seed prices.
“Cotton seed price should go up by at least 5-10 per cent to reach Rs 770-800 per 450 gm pack. Cost of labour accounts for 60 per cent of the cost of seed production, and it has gone up in the recent past. We feel that there is a need to increase seed price to meet the higher cost of production,” NSAI president M Prabhakar Rao told ET.
The hike in minimum support price of cotton has also led to rise in seed production, said Ram Kaundinya, director general, FSII. “Ideally, we want the price control order to be revoked as it has resulted in reduction in research investment by both biotech and seed companies. But if it continues, then seed prices should increase by 10 per cent to Rs 800-810 per 450 gm packet to offset the cost of seed production,” said Kaundinya.