The Green Revolution in India was initiated in the 1960s by introducing high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat to increase food production in order to alleviate hunger and poverty post -independence.
- The Green Revolutionwas a period that began in the 1960s during which agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technology, such as the use of high yielding variety (HYV) seeds, mechanised farm tools, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilizers.
- Mainly led by agricultural scientist M. S. Swaminathan in India, this period was part of the larger Green Revolution endeavor initiated by Norman E Borlaug, which leveraged agricultural research and technology to increase agricultural productivity in the developing world.
- Under premiership of leader 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.
- Major milestones in this undertaking were the development of high-yielding varieties of wheat and rust resistant strains of wheat. However, the long-term effects of green revolution have been analysed by environmental activists like Vandana Shiva who are of the opinion that it caused greater environmental, financial and sociological problems for the country like droughts, rural indebtedness and farmer suicides.
- Reports have shown soil deterioration from the use of chemicals bringing ruin to farmers, the land, food and water supply. This caused a collapse of agricultural systems in many regions.
Positive Impact of green revolution:
- Increase in Agricultural Production and productivity: The production and productivity of wheat, rice, maize and bajra has substantially increased.
- Less Dependence on Imports: After the green revolution, India was finally on its way to self-sufficiency. There was now enough production for the population and to build a stock in case of emergencies. In fact, India was able to start exporting its agricultural produce.
- A Benefit to the Farmers: The Green Revolution has increased the income of farmers and landless labourers. It enabled them to shift to commercial farming from only sustenance farming.
- Dispersal of Rice and Wheat cultivation to non-traditional areas: Green Revolution spread the Rice cultivation to the semi-arid areas of Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, and the wheat cultivation has spread to the areas of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and some parts of Maharashtra, Gujarat and West Bengal.
- Food-grains centric: Although all food-grains including wheat, rice, jowar, bajra and maize have gained from the revolution, other crops such as coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds were left out of the ambit of the revolution.
- Monocropping: Major commercial crops like cotton, jute, tea and sugarcane were also left almost untouched by the Green Revolution. This ultimately led to the dangerous trend of Monocropping.
- Displacement of small farmers: The Green Revolution has displaced the agricultural labourers, leading to rural unemployment. The mechanical innovations like tractors have displaced agricultural labourers.
- Land Degradation: The overuse of chemical fertilizers to get high yield causes physical and chemical degradation of the soil by altering the natural microflora and increasing the alkalinity and salinity of the soil
- Led to Regional Disparities: It led to growing disparities in economic development at inter and intra-regional levels. Only 40 percent of the total cropped area benefitted while the rest was left untouched by it. The most benefitted areas are Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh in the north and Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu in the south.
Constraints on the spread of High Yielding Varieties
- High Yielding Variety Programme (HYVP) was restricted to only five crops: Wheat, Rice, Jowar, Bajra and Maize.
- Therefore, non-food grains were excluded from the ambit of the new strategy.
- The HYV seeds in the non-food crops were either not developed so far or they were not good enough for farmers to risk their adoption.
- The benefits of Green Revolution were primarily reaped by the rich farmers as they had large land area, high amount of funds to invest in buying fertilizers, machines, HYV seeds etc.
- Majority of farmers on the other hand had small land holdings, with less funds to invest; hence they could not be benefited much from Green Revolution. In this way, GR further widened the gap between the rich and the poor farmers.
- The high yield crops require more water and fertilizers as compared to the normal varieties of crops. This constrained it to resource rich states and arid states could not benefit. Moreover, high input usage also led to decrease in its reach throughout India.
Overall, the Green Revolution was a major achievement for many developing countries, specially India and gave them an unprecedented level of national food security. However, lesser heed was paid to factors other than ensuring food security such as environment, the poor farmers and their education about the know-how of such chemicals.