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Saturday, September 13, 2008

UP Expert Backs Imports of Bt Cotton Technology

A professor from the University of the Philippines Los-Baños has backed the importation of Bt cotton technology for local use.

Agnes Rola, dean of the UPLB-College of Public Affairs, says this technology will help save the dying cotton industry in the Philippines.
The technology is resistant to major pests, like cotton bollworm and pink bollworm, which plague the cotton industry.

By improving cotton product ion, the country can save up to $75 million per year.

A study was recently undertaken to determine whether the technology importation could benefit the Philippine cotton industry or not.

Research and development on Bt cotton is expected to cost P6 million. Results show that planting Bt cotton in the Philippines will significantly increase the yield and profit of farmers as those in other countries.

The effectiveness and efficiency of this technology have been proven and used in countries like China, Argentina, India, Mexico, South Africa and the US.

Commercialization of Bt cotton will not be costly if the regulatory compliance is not prohibitive and if the total area to be planted is not less than 5,000 hectares.

Return on investment is expected to be from 43 percent to 68 percent, a benefit cost ratio of 3.36 to 4.74, a net present value of P512 million to P574 million for a 20-year period. The payback period is five years.

For farmers, the decrease in production cost is expected to be P12,000 per hectare due to reduced use of pesticides and a 20 percent increase in yield.

Decrease pesticide use will also create a good impact in the environment.

Society in general will profit from this technology, from lower environmental risks, more farmer benefits and a profitable seed business.

The study says that to attain potential society benefits, Bt cotton must be planted above the required 5,000 hectares.

Incentives, according to Rola, should be used to encourage plantation type cotton farming. She added that local governments should regularize and monitor pests and diseases that may crop up for this new technology to be strengthened.

Cotton is the world's principal fiber used in almost half of manufactured textiles. The Philippines imports 95 percent of its requirements. Pest infestations also led to the decline of cotton area from 35,284 hectares in 1991 to 1,683 hectares in 1999. (biolife news service)

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