Bans Monsanto From Selling Seeds
By Imran Khan
Indo-Asian News Service
15 April, 2003
Monsanto India Ltd, a subsidiary of the US multinational, has been barred
from selling seeds in Bihar for allegedly marketing substandard products.
The action came after farmers
complained that Monsanto's Cargill hybrid 900M maize seeds were substandard
or contaminated as they failed to germinate and much of the winter crop
failed, Agriculture Minister Shivshankar Yadav said.
Monsanto is believed to have
sold 700 tonnes of seeds for the winter crop, promising farmers yields
of 80 to 85 quintals per acre. The actual yield was not even 10 percent
of this, according to figures available with the government.
Bihar has 180,000 acres under
maize. Monsanto seeds were planted over 140,000 hectares.
The company has been asked
to explain its conduct. Experts from the Rajendra Agriculture University
(RAU) would study its reply before the government decides on cancelling
the company's licence to operate in the state, Yadav added.
Monsanto officials contend
the poor yields were due to the unexpected cold weather earlier this
year that had affected all hybrids across much of Bihar as well as nearby
They pointed out that seed
trials during the summer crop of 1996, 1997 and 1998 had produced adequate
yields, after which they had been recommended to the central seed committee
for notification in 1999.
Sources in the Bihar government
said it was under tremendous pressure to cancel Monsanto's licence because
thousands of farmers were demanding compensation after being reduced
to penury following the failure of the winter crop.
While the loss has not been
quantified, B.N. Jha, a specialist with the Agriculture Technology Management
Agency, said it would run into millions of rupees.
"Farmers sowed Cargil
seeds over hundreds of acres in Muzaffarpur district but the low output
has devastated us. We had not faced such a problem earlier," said
an upset Aawadesh Singh, a farmer of Meenapur village in the district.
His tale is similar to that
of hundreds of farmers in over a dozen districts of north Bihar including
Samastipur, Darbhanga, Madhubani and West and East Champaran.
Monsanto has said it would
send its teams to the affected districts to study the situation on the