Let Free Market Determine Cotton Seed Price’
The Economic Survey 2015-16 tabled in Parliament on Friday
does not favour the central government’s decision to control sale price of cotton seeds, including that of genetically modified (GM) varieties. It said that markets should be allowed to determine price.
The survey said that given the past experiences and limitations in administratively fixing prices in India, it is desirable to let markets determine the price of seeds. Enhancing competition through more players can help to check and reduce cases of price rigging and cartel formation, it added.
The Agriculture Ministry issued the Cotton Seeds Price (Control) Order last December to fix the maximum sale price of the seeds, including GM varieties.
According to the order, the government may, after taking into consideration the seed Value, licence fee which includes one time and recurring Royalty (trait Value), trade margins and other taxes, whenever necessary, as it may deem fit, from time to time, notify in the Official gazette, the maximum sale price of cotton seeds on or before 31 March of every year, applicable for the next financial year.
A committee under the chairmanship of the joint secretary (seed) and controller, Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, will recommend the maximum sale price of cotton seed.
The committee will have to take inputs from such persons or associations or authority, as may be necessary for working out the maximum sale price of cotton seed. It held its first meeting last week.
The National Seed Association of India (NSAI) has supported the government’s decision to control seed prices.
Earlier this month, the Delhi High Court cleared the way for the central government to bring Bt cotton seeds under the price control regime after it rejected Mahyco Monsanto Biotech (India) Pvt. Ltd’s (MBBL) plea to put on hold the Centre’s cotton price control order.
Bt cotton is the only GM crop allowed for commercial cultivation in the country. Over the last decade, Bt cotton technology has been adopted over 95 per cent of the cotton growing area, making India its second-largest producer. –