Governor should intervene in Cotton Seed Price Issues: CPI

HYDERABAD: CPI National Council secretary, Dr. Narayana, has written to Governor Narsimhan seeking his intervention to help seed growing farmers and see that both the Telugu State governments implead in courts so that justice would be done to the farming community.

In his letter, the CPI leader had stated the Bt cotton seed prices were brought into control by the previous united Andhra Pradesh Government with enactment of the state’s Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act 2007 and the Monsanto, high royalty of 1,250 rupees per packet, was brought into control by then chief minister Rajasekhara Reddy and Kolli Nageshwara Rao, president of Rythu Sangham.

After sometime, Monsanto manipulated things and started charging high royalties with the tacit support of agriculture department officials since 2010, he said.

In spite of an order to regulate the royalty of 90 rupees per packet in 2010, the officials allowed Monsanto to collect more than double the amount as royalty, and in the process impoverishing the farmers.  The officials also allowed the litigation to continue without presenting their arguments even once in the last five years.

Monsanto has been pressuring the government to enhance seed prices primarily using its sub-licensee seed companies as a front. In the name of royalty, the company looted nearly 4,05,000 crore rupees from farmers. It is learnt that the company sought increase of over 300 rupees per 450g packets, which will take the prices to more than 1,200 rupees for 450g packets.

Even the new AP Government passed a casual MRP order this year without protecting the interests of seed farmers. However, the Telangana Government passed a much better G.O utilizing the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Cotton Seeds (Regulation of Supply, Distribution, Sale and Fixation of Sale Price) Act, 2007. The government reduced the royalty of Monsanto to 50 rupees per packet from 90 rupees and supported the seed-producing farmers by providing 40 rupees additionally for the seed production cost.

Further, the government provided for strong implementation of the order by specifically mentioning that the royalty mentioned will have overriding effect on the bilateral agreement between the licensee seed companies and Monsanto, thereby, forcing Monsanto not to charge higher royalty hiding behind the pending litigation before the High Court.

Telangana Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy held a meeting with seed companies and Monsanto and gave a stern warning to them to follow the G.O and maintain prices. However, Andhra Pradesh Government is yet to learn from the Telangana Government.

Meanwhile, Monsanto approached the High Court and got a stay on Telangana Government Order. As the government is determined to get the stay vacated to implement its order, the AP Government also should jointly fight for benefit of seed farmers. Bt cottonseed prices would go up higher and seed farmers and their workers would suffer due to low procurement costs, Narayana said. (NSS)

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