The Green Revolution was a period of agricultural transformation in the mid of the 20th century. It involved the introduction of new farming technologies and practices that aimed to increase crop production and address food shortages, particularly in developing countries. Key elements of the Green Revolution included using high-yielding crop varieties, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and improved irrigation methods. These innovations led to significant increases in agricultural productivity, helping to alleviate hunger and improve food security. Although, the Green Revolution also had some negative environmental and social impacts. Overall, the Green Revolution had a profound impact on global agriculture and remains a topic of debate and ongoing efforts for sustainable food production.
What is Green Revolution?
Green Revolution is a period that began in the 1960s, by introducing high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat to increase food production, during which agriculture in India was converted into a modern industrial system by the adoption of technologies such as-
- The use of high-yielding varieties (HYV) seeds.
- Mechanized farm tools.
- Irrigation Facilities.
- Pesticides and fertilizers.
The Green Revolution was initiated in the 1960s by Norman Earnest Borlaug. He is also known as the ‘’ in the World. It led him to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his tremendous work in developing High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) of wheat also credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation.
The Green Revolution was substantially led by M.S. Swaminathan, known as the ‘Father of the Green Revolution’ in India. He initiated a program under which high-yield varieties of wheat and rice seedlings were planted in the fields of poor farmers.
The Green Revolution in India commenced in 1966, leading to an increase in food grain production, especially in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh.
Situation of Agriculture in India at the Time of Independence
At the time of Independence old methods and techniques were used. Some of the reasons are as follows:
- The majority of the population was high, and so was the demand for food grains.
- The majority of the land was dependent on the monsoon season.
- Investment in the agriculture sector was very low.
- Frugal use of chemical fertilizers.
- Import dependency was high.
Features of the Green Revolution
The main features are as follows:
- Use of HYV Seeds (High Yielding Variety Seeds).
- Use of Fertilizers, Chemicals, and Manures.
- Mechanism of Farming (use of machines like tractors, thrashers, etc)
- Multiple Cropping Patterns/Crop Rotation- that create production of the crops.
- Better Infrastructure Facilities (Irrigation, marketing, warehousing, electrification, transportation, etc.)
- Improved Credit Facilities (NABARD was established, development of commercial banks and co-operative banks).
- The main Demand for High-Yield Seeds is an applicable water system.
- Crops developed from HYV Seeds demanded great measures of water supply and drovers could not rely upon rain.
- Green Revolution further Developed the Water System around Granges in India.
- Marketable crops and cash crops like Cotton, Jute, and Oilseeds became prominent.
- This Expanded the availability and application of coprolites, weedicides, and fungicides.
- It helped in Advancing Business Civilization with the presentation of hardware and invention like collectors, drills, etc.
High Yielding Variety (HYV) Seeds: Main Reason for Agricultural Revolution
- These seeds can be used in those places where there should be adequate facilities for drainage and water supply.
- If we compared HYV Seeds to other ordinary seeds, these seeds need a heavy dose of chemical fertilizers (4-10 times more fertilizers) to get the largest possible yield.
- To get the benefits from HYV Seeds, Indian farmers need to have:
- Reliable irrigation facilities.
- Good Financial resources (to purchase fertilizers and pesticides).
Success of the Green Revolution
The Indian Economy experienced the success of the Green Revolution in Two Phases-
Phase 1 (The mid-60s to mid-70s)- The use of HYV Seeds was restricted to more affluent states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, etc. Further, the use of HYV Seeds primarily benefitted the wheat-growing regions only.
Phase 2 ( The mid-70s to mid-80s)- The use of HYV Technology spread to a large number of States and benefitted more variety of crops.
Important Impacts/Effects of the Green Revolution
The main impacts of the Green Revolution are as follows:
- Benefits to Low-Income Groups: A large proportion of food grains was sold by the farmers in the market, and their prices declined compared to the other items of consumption. The low-income groups, who spend a large percentage of their income on food, benefitted from this decline in relative prices.
- Rice in Production and Productivity: Dependence on food imports eliminated. After the Green Revolution, India became self-sufficient in food grains and became a food Surplus country, from a food shortage country.
- Reserve/Buffer Stock of Food Grains: The Green Revolution enabled the government to save a sufficient amount of extra food grains, as to build a stock, which could be used in times of need when there will be a shortage of food.
- Increase in Employment and Fall in Poverty: The Green Revolution solved the problem of seasonal unemployment by introducing new multiple cropping techniques.
- Strengthening Forward and Backward Linkages with Industry: This happens due to an increase in the production in agriculture.
- Social Reform: People started using modern methods and techniques of farming. They accepted the changes in technology, seeds, and fertilizers.
- Attaining Marketable Surplus: The Green Revolution resulted in a ‘marketable surplus’.
- The Marketable surplus refers to that part of the agricultural produce that is sold in the market by the farmers after meeting their own consumption requirements.
- Growth in agricultural outputs makes a huge difference to the economy when a large proportion of this increase in crops is sold in the market.
- Fortunately, a good proportion of rice and wheat production during this Green Revolution period served as profitable and was sold by the farmers in the market.
Risks Involved in Green Revolution
No doubt there were numerous benefits after the Green Revolution but along with the advantages, risks were also urged. Some of the risks are as follows:
Risk of Pest- Attack: The HYV Crops were more prone to a risk, that small farmers who had adopted this technology could lose everything in a pest attack. However, this risk was considerably reduced by the services provided by the Research Institute Established by the Government of India.
Risk of Increase in Income Inequalities: There was a risk for costly inputs (HYV Seeds, Fertilizers, etc.) required under the Green Revolution. This is the cause, that creates an increase in the disparities between the poor and rich farmers, since only the farmers who can afford to buy such costly techniques can use them.
However, due to favourable steps taken by the Government, these risks were undergone. The Government provided loans at a low interest rate to small or poor farmers, so that they could also have the benefits of these new technologies. Since the small farmers could obtain the required inputs now! As a result, the Green Revolution also benefitted the small farmers.
Failures/Problems of the Green Revolution
There is no doubt that this new agricultural Green Revolution Strategy has resulted in increased productivity, benefitting the farmers, and declining rural poverty. At the same time, there are also some problems that led to the failure of the Green Revolution, which are discussed below:
- Restricted Crop Coverage: The Green Revolution mainly focused on Wheat and Rice. There was less focus on Commercial Crops like oilseeds, jute, etc.
- Increased Personal Inequality in Rural Areas: Rich farmers became richer with big farm sizes. Small/poor farmers lagged behind.
- Increased Regional Disparities: The Green Revolution spread only in Irrigated and high-potential rain-affected areas. Example- Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh).
- Environmental Damage: Over-use of soil, nutrients depleted, beneficial insects for the crops were also killed, and the loss of biodiversity. Due to excessive and inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides, farmers were illiterate and were not given proper training to use this modern technology.
- Rise in Unemployment: Unemployment of unskilled workers due to the mechanization of agriculture. Limited workers were needed in fieldwork.
The Second Green Revolution in India
The Green Revolution started with the aim of eradicating food scarcity in India. Whereas, the Second Green Revolution focuses on the Sustainability of Agriculture, with the help of Scientific and Organic modes of agrarian practices with an end and ideal to deal the challenges like-
- Crop Productivity
- Food Inflation
- Environmental Hazards
- Agricultural Marketing
The Green Revolution is a major achievement for India, which has given it food security by increasing productivity and production. Achievements of the Green Revolution have definitely been revolutionary. It has provided benefits to the poor in the form of lower food prices and also increased employment opportunities in rural non-farm economies.
However, it was restricted to a few crops, only rice, and wheat, so it is necessary to extend the new technology to all states and cover more crops. Also, it has generated inequalities in society and degraded the environment. So, the Second Green Revolution is needed that is environmentally and socially sustainable.