Sudhindra Kulkarni's 500 Words | My experiences with GM crops

Sudhindra Kulkarni’s 500 Words | My experiences with GM crops

Following Ravichandran’s 500 words on his own views of biotechnology in India, Sudhindra Kulkarni would now like to tell his own experiences of farming with newer technologies. Kulkarni discusses his own history of battling with pests to grow his crops. We’ve previously heard Vandana Shiva and others blame GMOs for farmer suicides in India, but here we have a different story of GMOs benefiting Kulkarni’s village, and reducing farmer suicides. Having this narrative in our 500 word project may help some of us better understand the life of a farmer. You can find more from Kulkarni on Facebook.
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My name is Sudhindra Kulkarni, aged 45 and working as a farmer and trying my fortune with agriculture for my livelihood. When I started my agriculture, like a new comer, I was nowhere and not knew how to start? What to do? And where to go about?. As I belongs to the remotest village of Jewargi taluka of Gulbarga district called Malli. Where people struggle everyday to fight adversities like power supply, proper roads, drinking water, sanitation, availability of farm machinery and inputs like seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. I remember those days during early nineties, where I used to grow pigeon peas and chickpeas. There was only one problem and there was probably no solution and that was pod borer and I came to know later that it is called as Helicoverpa armigera. When Helicoverpa armigera attacking the crops, it was like a war prone situation in my village. People used to get ready with all the weapons like chilli powder, garlic paste, organic oils, homemade botanicals and even very harsh insecticides like methomyl, chlorpyriphos, acephate, monocrotophos, pyrethriods etc. Hundreds of insecticides like good, bad, substandard, duplicate, ineffective, irrelevant and what not were available to try their luck. People were fed up with trying the same old insecticides and later switched to some alternate products like NPV and neem based Azadiractin formulations and got some short term relief. Later, new generation insecticides like indoxacarbemamectin benzoate and spinosad brought some hope and that joy didn’t last longer. Farmers almost abandoned their crops without harvest many a times. I still remember, in late nineties and early two thousands, farmers used to engage human labours to collect the pod borer for ten paisa per worm and all the roads of Gulbarga district were flooded with these worms.

A ray of hope came when I started cultivating Bt cotton during 2008 and fortune started swinging and finally I was able to survive in this gamble. Slowly I was able to get confidence and started believing in the technology called as GM crops .The biggest relief was to get rid of bollworm problem and to avoid the smelliest and tedious pesticide sprays. I was able to get the record yield of cotton in my entire village which brought not only name and fame but also the good dividends in terms of money. With the help of Bt cotton I was able to clear my debts which I was never dreamt of clearing those. I can able to convert my mud house in to a pakka cement house. Now I am able to provide good education to my children.

In my opinion, GM technology helped the farmers of my village to get rid of vicious circle of pesticides, poor yield, debt and ultimately suicides. Now, I can proudly say, there are no more crop failure suicides in my village. Bt cotton helped me to increase my agriculture holding from four acres to twenty acres. I was able to add another sixteen acres of agriculture land with the help and hope of Bt cotton in the past eight years.

As I did not go to the college and not studied the biology, I don’t know much about the technical knowhow of transgenic crops and how these crops have evolved and what efforts went in to this. I can only know that, definitely scientists must have taken all the care in to the safety of these crops before giving it to us. I feel after using Bt cotton, pest problem in other crops also has come down drastically and now farmers in my village are getting more and more crop yields.

I hope this not an end, this is beginning. This is not just my story; this is the story of all the farmers of my village.


Sudhindra Kulkarni

If you would like us at GMO SF to share your story, please see our previous post: Callout for Your Stories! In 500 Words, What is Your Stance on GMOs in Society?
Coverphoto Credit: Vindoth Chandar | CC