REFERENCE THE article “Will genetically modified ‘Bt Cotton’ increase yields inPakistan?” Insertion of Bt. gene that synthesize toxin to kill the caterpillar only, has nothing to do with yield increase.
Countries like Pakistan has all time very serious issue of pest management, as majority of the small famers could not recognize pests, they have financial issues to buy and spray pesticides well in time to manage these pests, extension agents and private sector always target large farmers or influential farmers due to one reason or other. All these resulted in lower yield of small farmers and our yield gap of progressive growers and general growers is too much, several times to that of other countries.
Poor small farmer is the only who suffer adulterated pesticide, spray on the recommendations of the dealer or his neighbor farmer and some time just rely on spiritual management only by sprinkling some holy ashes from shrine round the field and wait for a miracle to occur.
Pestmanagement especially of caterpillars that damage the fruiting bodies (flowers, squares and bolls) take heavy tolls from the crop and additionally increase the cost of production as well. Bt. cotton has just provided the solution of these pests and helped farmers who could not reached by the extension agents, were at the mercy of pesticide dealers and fellow farmers, by providing them an inbuilt control of caterpillars.
Now it is up to the scientists which variety they choose to insert the Bt. gene, because yield is determined by a different gene not by Bt. gene. It is an additional plus point that scientist can add to a good yielding variety, just like they add fiber quality character or bushy or non bushy plant characteristics to a variety.
Pakistan’s low yield is a function of many factors like CLCV, water scarcity, natural calamities, new pest emergence, slow variety development, timely non availability of inputs, ever rising costs and most importantly seed related issues. Our more than 70 per cent seed comes from non formal “farmer-to-farmer” exchange basis, where seed producer is not trained, neither has right equipment to process nor has right storage facilities.
The law makers also give little attention to the regulations associated with agriculture and seed is another reason. All these issues need to be addressed by different channels; however, media can play a vital role to sensitize the stakeholders and concerned ministries, provinces, departments etc.
Dr. Khalid Abdullah