The green revolution was an important turn point for Indian agriculture. Read here to know more about the history and impact of the green revolution.
The Green Revolution in India was initiated in the 1960s by introducing high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat to increase food production to alleviate hunger and poverty.
History of the Green revolution
The Green Revolution can be described as a set of research technology transfer initiatives. It gained momentum between 1950 and the late 1960s which increased agricultural production in parts of the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s.
- It is also called Third Agricultural Revolution after the Neolithic Revolution and the British Agricultural Revolution.
The Green Revolution was an endeavor initiated by Norman Borlaug in the 1960s. He is known as the ‘Father of Green Revolution in the world.
- It led to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his work in developing High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of wheat.
The word “Green Revolution” was coined by William S. Gaud of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1968.
Mexico has been called the ‘birthplace’ and ‘burial ground’ of the Green Revolution. The initial success of the program was due to:
- high yield plants without disease resistivity
- adaptability, and ability to utilize fertilizers;
- improved use of soils,
- adequate fertilizers, and control of weeds and pests; and
- a favorable ratio between the cost of fertilizers (and other investments) to the price of the produce
Mexico became the showcase for extending the Green Revolution to other areas of Latin America and beyond, into Africa and Asia.
Green revolution in India
The advent of the green revolution in India happened in 1961 when the country was on the brink of famine.
Norman Borlaug was invited to India by the adviser to the Indian Minister of Agriculture Dr. M. S. Swaminathan.
- S Swaminathan is known as the Father of the Green Revolution in India.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, the Green Revolution within India commenced in 1968, leading to an increase in food grain production, especially in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
The state of Punjab was selected by the Indian government to be the first site to try the new wheat seeds because of its reliable water supply.
- This Wheat Revolution increased wheat production by more than three times between 1967-68 and 2003-04.
India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals.
Indian Agriculture was converted into an industrial system due to the adoption of modern methods and technology such as the use of HYV seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides, and fertilizers.
India soon adopted IR8 a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that could produce more grains of rice per plant when grown with certain fertilizers and irrigation.
By 2006, India had become one of the world’s most successful rice producers.
Also Read: Famines in Colonial India
Components of the green revolution
- Quantitative expansion of farming areas
- Double cropping systems, that is to have two crop seasons per year.
- Water now came from huge irrigation projects as dams were built and other simple irrigation techniques were also adopted.
- Using seeds with superior genetics as new strains of high-yield variety seeds were developed.
The main crops were Wheat, Rice, Jowar, Bajra, and Maize. Non-food grains were excluded from the ambit of the new strategy. Wheat remained the mainstay of the Green Revolution for years.
Positive effects of the green revolution
- Increase in crop production: The crop area under high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice grew considerably making India one of the world’s biggest agricultural producers.
- Self-sufficiency: The import of goof grains reduced as India became self-sufficient in food grains, rather India started exporting at times.
- Availability: The per capita net availability of food grains has increased.
- Benefits to farmers: The level of income of farmers increased as agricultural productivity improved. It promoted capitalist farming as big land owners profited the most.
- Industrialization: The large-scale mechanization of farms created a demand for machinery like tractors, harvesters, threshers, combines, diesel engines, electric motors, pumping sets, etc. Demand for chemical fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, weedicides, etc. also increased considerably.
- Agro industries: Several agricultural products came to be used as raw materials in various industries giving rise to agro-based industries.
- Employment: The demand for labor force increased rural employment, and the industrial workforce at the same time.
Impact on ecology
- Indigenous seeds did not have the inherent ability to withstand the chemical fertilizers used hence they started dying out of usage.
- The newly introduced high-yielding seeds had a narrow genetic base compared to the indigenous species.
- The overuse of chemical fertilizers to get high yield caused physical and chemical degradation of the soil by altering the natural microflora and increasing the alkalinity and salinity of the soil.
Impact on other food crops
- Non-food grains were not included- major commercial crops like cotton, jute, tea, and sugarcane were also left almost untouched by the Green Revolution.
- The High Yielding Variety Programme (HYVP) was restricted to only five crops: Wheat, Rice, Jowar, Bajra, and Maize.
- The green revolution impacted only a few states creating economic disparity among regions.
Impact on farmers
- The excessive use of groundwater for irrigation depleted the water table in many parts of the country.
- Eventually, small farmers sold their lands to large commercial farmers as they were unable to withstand the increasing expenses of farming and debts.
- Many farmers left farming unable to withstand the food inflation and economic crisis.
Impact on food consumption and nutrition
- The per capita net availability of other cereal grains such as millets and pulses decreased over the years.
- This led to the change in the consumption pattern over the years and the shift in focus from the minor cereals and pulses to the major cereals, rice and wheat.
- The consumption of major cereals such as rice and wheat along with pulses and a decrease in the addition of coarse cereals, foods of animal origin, and fruits and vegetables in the diet lead to a deficiency of micronutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin A, folate, and riboflavin among the population causing anemia, keratomalacia, blindness, and infertility in severe cases.
Green Revolution – Krishonnati Yojana
The government of India introduced the Green Revolution Krishonnati Yojana in 2005 to boost the agriculture sector.
The government through the scheme plans to develop the agriculture and allied sector in a holistic & scientific manner to increase the income of farmers.
It comprises 11 schemes and missions under a single umbrella scheme:
- Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH)
- National Food Security Mission (NFSM)
- National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA)
- Submission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE)
- Sub-Mission on Seeds and Planting Material (SMSP)
- Sub-Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM)
- Sub-Mission on Plant Protection and Plan Quarantine (SMPPQ)
- Integrated Scheme on Agriculture Census, Economics, and Statistics (ISACES)
- Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Cooperation (ISAC)
- Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing (ISAM)
- National e-Governance Plan in Agriculture (NeGP-A)
The green revolution pulled India out of a major food crisis and provided unprecedented food security. The success story helped the country achieve self-sufficiency and even an export market of food grains.
But the negative impacts on the environment and lack of knowledge on heavy-duty chemical fertilizers among Indian farmers weren’t taken into account, which led to failures towards the end of it.
The advantages of indigenous crops should be realized and they should be revived as food security must also ensure the nutrition security of the nation.
Proper planning and intensive collaborative research work should be initiated by the stakeholders for the conservation of the traditional varieties and the inclusion of these varieties and practices into the food and nutrition security plans for the nation owing to their nutritional benefits.
The impact on ecology and the water table must be specially focused upon.