Complaints that Mahyco is exploiting farmers, promoting black marketing and ignoring rules have led the Maharashtra government to call into question the agri biotechnology company’s licence to produce and supply the 73-51 seed variety of genetically modified (Bt) cotton in the state. The Director of Inputs and Quality Control (DIQC), the licensing authority, has served the 1964-founded company a notice under the provisions of the Maharashtra Cotton Act, 2009.
A senior government official said the company had given its evidence before the DIQC. “It is being verified. An order is expected in the next 10 days,” he said.
The official admitted that the Jalna-based company’s behaviour had adversely impacted sowing in the state’s cotton-growing belt.
The issue had rocked the Assembly recently when ruling and opposition parties’ members called for stern action against Mahyco. Agriculture Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil had indicated revocation of the company’s licence.
A Mahyco spokesperson chose not to comment, saying the company had yet to receive an official communication. “We are a law-abiding company,” he said. “Since inception, we have been continuously striving to provide high-quality seeds for improving farm productivity and profitability. We will continue to do so.”
The government official justified the DIQC move, saying Mahyco had, during the current kharif season, supplied 73-51 variety of Bt cotton below the assured quantity, leading to unrest among farmers.
In Beed, Nashik, Jalna and Aurangabad districts, the company, in “close nexus” with dealers and sub-dealers, supplied seeds that did not match the declared quantity, keeping the agriculture department in the dark, he claimed.
“This amounted to forgery and encouragement of black marketing by the company and its officials,” the official claimed. “Therefore, offences were registered against the official. Some of them have got anticipatory bail, while in one case the court has rejected plea for anticipatory bail.”
The DIQC had, during the 2011-12 kharif season, registered 18 cases against Mahyco for “serious lapses” in the supply of the 73-51 seed variety of BT cotton, he recalled.
(With inputs from Dilip Kumar Jha)