NEW DELHI: To bring relief to cotton growers hit by pest attacks, the government has cut maximum sale price of genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds to Rs 740 per packet for the second year in a row from Rs 800 earlier.
That apart, the royalty fee or trait value payable by domestic seed firms to technology developer Monsanto Mahyco Biotech (India) Ltd (MMBL) has been slashed to Rs 39 per packet from Rs 49.
The new prices will come into effect from the 2018 kharif season starting June. A packet of Bt cotton seeds is of 450 gram.
The move will benefit 8 million cotton growers, but will reduce the margin of domestic seed companies and also MMBL.
According to an agriculture ministry notification, the maximum sale price of a Bt cotton seeds packet has been fixed at Rs 740 for bollgard (BG)-II version, including Rs 39 for the trait value.
For the BG-I version, the maximum sale price has been kept unchanged at Rs 635 per packet with no trait value, the notification added.
A senior ministry official said the reduction in price will provide some relief to cotton farmers who have been affected by repeated pest attacks and crop losses.
The government started controlling prices of cotton seeds including the GM versions, by fixing a uniform maximum sale price from March 2016.
Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation in the country. Over the last decade, Bt cotton technology has been adopted on over 95 per cent of the country's cotton growing area, making India the second largest producer and exporter of the cash crop.
Cotton production is estimated at 33.92 million bales (of 170 kg each) in 2018-19 crop year as against 32.58 million bales last year.