Two new organic cotton varieties have been made available to farmers. Released by the Swiss organic agricultural research institute FiBL, these are the first ever cotton varieties of India bred under organic conditions.
The varieties were developed through a decentralised organic participatory breeding programme of FiBL Switzerland and partners.
Pratibha Syntex, Chetna Organic, CottonConnect, Action for Social Advancement (ASA), Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Gwalior University, Dr. Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth, Akola University (PDKV) and Centre for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA) are partners in this initiative.
The new varieties have been tested under organic conditions and officially released by the State Seed Sub Committee of Madhya Pradesh, the largest organic cotton-growing state in India.
The Committee gave the green light to the two first-ever non-GM cotton varieties for organic agriculture on 8 September 2022.
The released varieties are high-yielding and meet industrial fibre quality requirements. They are derived from two different cotton species: Gossypium arboreum, commonly known as traditional or Desi Cotton and Gossypium hirsutum, American upland cotton. Both were bred under organic conditions and are suitable for organic, agroecological, regenerative and low input farming systems.
“These varieties do not only improve agrobiodiversity and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers, but they also ensure their right to choose from Desi and American upland cotton without having any negative impact on productivity, profitability and quality of their cotton,” says Amritbir Riar, project leader of the Seeding the Green Future (SGF) project and deputy leader of the Department of International Cooperation at FiBL Switzerland.
The non-GM Desi Cotton variety RVJK-SGF-1, developed by scientists from RVSKVV, PSL and FiBL Switzerland, has been found to be 21.05 per cent superior in seed cotton yield over the benchmark variety.
The variety has a good fibre length (28.77 mm), a high fibre strength (27.12 g/tex) and it matures in 144-160 days after showing.
The non-GM American Cotton variety RVJK-SGF-2 developed by scientists from RVSKVV, Chetna Organic and FiBL Switzerland exceeded the benchmark by 21.18 per cent for seed cotton yield and is a medium tall (96-110 cm) type plant of medium maturity group and matures in 145-155 days after showing. The variety has – as per the industrial requirements – long fibres (29.87mm) and a high fibre strength (29.92 g/tex). It is also found to be suitable for 20s to 50s count spinning to make a good quality fabric.