The Philippine Fiber Industry Development Authority (PHILFIDA) is planning to use genetically modified BT cotton to help revive the country’s cotton industry.
BT cotton is an insect-resistant transgenic crop designed to withstand the cotton bollworm, therefore the crop requires little pesticides. The agency says this type of cotton addresses the issues of pests while increasing yields and delivering higher profits to farmers.
PHILFIDA has recently finished multi-locational field trials of BT cotton on the islands of Luzon and Mindanao located in the Philippines.
This cotton could yield 3 tons per hectare (10,000 square meters) compared to 1-2 tons with the current local commercial varieties.
Following the multi-locational trial, the agency will apply for its commercialization with the Bureau of Plant Industry with an expected approval in October or November of this year.
From here it will proceed with its techno-demonstration with the cotton producers located in Ilocos, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Saranggani and South Cotabato involving 40 farms measuring 1-hectare (10,000 square meters) each. The technology developer from India has agreed to provide BT cottonseeds to these farms for free.
The techno-demo project will require a total budget of 4 million Philippine pesos ($89,112).
The commercial propagation of BT cotton will launch along with the promotion of the production of heirloom cotton and the start of organic cotton production technology. PHILFIDA says these developments will kickoff the revival of the country’s cotton industry.