Bangalore: Karnataka government has an open mind on the issue of genetically modified crops, and favours giving options for farmers to make informed choices, Agriculture Minister Krishna Byre Gowda said today.
He said Bt cotton, first introduced in the State some one-and-half decades ago, has definitely benefitted farmers to improve yields in an eco-friendly manner. "That`s why farmers have adopted it". As much as 90 per cent of farmers in Karnataka are using Bt cotton seeds.
Agricultural universities based in Dharwad and Raichur are currently working on improving the Bt cotton seeds.
"We must keep our minds open", Byre Gowda said when asked to spell out the new Congress government`s stand on GM crops. "We must give him (farmer) the options; let him choose".
On organic farming, which was aggressively promoted by the previous BJP government, the Minister, in reply to a query, said funds for such initiatives were perhaps misused but added that subject comes under the Horticulture Department, which needs to inquire into it.
The Minister said the government has geared up to supply seeds and fertilisers to farmers. Agriculture department has estimated that for the 2013 Kharif season, 10.68 lakh quintals of seeds would be needed, which had been stocked.
As against the requirement of 24 lakh tonnes of fertilisers, the government has a stock of nine lakh tonnes, which would continuously get replenished, he said.
The Minister advised farmers not to over-use urea just because it was cheap, saying such an approach would bring down soil fertility.
A special squad has been formed to crack down on elements who seek to create "artificial shortage" by hoarding, he said.
Byre Gowda also said though there are many schemes for farmers, the government would focus on those identified among them, rather than trying to implement all of them.