bioRe® Organic Cotton Seed Research

Research project to develop high quality cotton genotypes for organic supply in India

India has been the largest organic cotton producing country for many years, but organic farmers face very great difficulties in accessing high quality GMO-free seeds that are particularly suited to organic conditions. On the one hand, the efforts of the commercial seed sector are focused on GM cotton, as it makes up 95% of seed demand, but on the other hand, public research institutions have only sparse research on GMO-free cotton and no research under organic conditions. The research products of the private seed industry are limited to hybrids and not varieties for their own commercial reasons. Since the organic cotton growing ecosystem is different from the conventional system, the genotypes identified for conventional growing are not the right choice of genotypes for the organic situation. It is therefore urgent for organic farmers to have access to new seeds and it is very necessary to try different approaches to increase the productivity of cotton in organic farming.

bioRe® Association India and bioRe® India Ltd with support from the bioRe® Foundation initiated an exclusive GMO-free cotton seed breeding and evaluation programme during the 2010/11 cotton season in collaboration with the University of Agricultural Sciences Dharwad and initially with scientific backstopping from FiBL Switzerland. FiBL was, in the first two phases, a partner of the seed research programme in capacity building of the local research team. Throughout the research process, the focus was on farmer feedback and industry quality criteria.

Since the beginning, the research work has been carried out under the scientific guidance of senior cotton breeder Dr SS Patil and efforts are being initiated to make these research results available to farmers for adoption and extension.

We are very proud that after 10 years of research and development work in the field of GMO-free cotton seed, we were able to supply 6 bioRe’s own 100% GMO-free seed to our farmers for the first time.

Four hybrids namely ‘Narmada Shakti Platinum’, ‘Narmada Shakti Gold’, ‘Narmada Shakti Silver’ and ‘Bio Power’ have been commercialised after getting necessary approval from the state. The Dhanwarsha series of the variety ‘Hirsutum’ is also being commercialised.

Due to heavy rains in 2019, the seed programme suffered a setback, but the germplasm for next year’s multiplication was secure and the programme is targeting higher production levels for the coming season. bioRe® India intends to introduce its own varieties in attractive packaging on a large scale next season.