Since last many decades, important agricultural changes have occurred to deliver enough food for the increasing human population. The Green Revolution was a period when the output of global agriculture augmented considerably as a result of technical advancement. In worldwide scarcity of food which became intimidating in the period after WWII, the wave of the Green Revolution ascended. The Green Revolution changed agricultural practice in many regions of the tropics and sub-tropics where the principal food crops were rice, wheat and maize, but the brief account that follows is mainly focused on the Indian sub-continent. The Green Revolution denotes to type of research, development, and technology transfer initiatives stirring between the 1930s and the late 1960s (with prequels in the work of the agrarian geneticist Nazareno Strampelli in the 1920s and 1930s), that augmented agricultural production worldwide, particularly in the developing world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. The word "Green Revolution" was first coined in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies. These and other developments in the field of agriculture generated a new revolution. It is not a violent Red Revolution like that of the Soviets, nor is it a White Revolution like that of the Shah of Iran. J. G. Harrar stated that, "The green revolution is the phrase generally used to describe the spectacular increase that took place during 1967-68 and is continuing in the production of food grains in India"
During the period of technical advancement, new chemical fertilizers and synthetic herbicides and pesticides were made. The chemical fertilizers made it possible to supply crops with extra nutrients and, therefore, increase revenue. The newly developed synthetic herbicides and pesticides controlled weeds, deterred or kill insects, and prevented diseases, which led to high production. Over and above the chemical advances utilized during this time period, high-yield crops were also developed and introduced. High-yield crops are crops that are precisely designed to produce more overall yield. Technique of multiple cropping was also implemented during the Green Revolution and lead to higher productivity. Multiple cropping is done when a field is used to grow two or more crops throughout the year, so that the field continually has something growing on it. These new farming practices and advances in agricultural technology were utilized by agriculturalists around the globe, and when combined, it intensified the results of the Green Revolution.
The history of Green Revolution is drawn back to the 1940s when Daniels, the U S Ambassador to Mexico and Henry Wallace, Vice President of the USA established a scientific operation to help the development of agricultural technology in Mexico. High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) or the 'miracle seeds' were at the focus of the novel technology. Consequently, the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation started a joint venture to announce plant breeding program in Mexico.
Dr. Norman Borlaug, the Norway-born, U.S-based agricultural scientist was the innovator of this remarkable scientific achievement. By 1954, Borlaug's 'miracle seeds' of dwarf varieties of wheat had been raised. The Breeding efforts were in response to the intolerable pressure of population explosion on existing food supplies in the Third World countries. In association with the 'miracle seed' program, two international agricultural research stations International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) were formed. These centers grew out of the Rockefeller Foundation's country program to launch the new seeds, known as the New Agricultural strategy, by the mid-1960s.
From 1966, IRRI began to produce 'miracle' rice, in sequence to the 'miracle' wheat from CIMMYT. The Green Revolution was given support in Mexico, Philippines and India from the 1940s through to the 1960s by the Rockefeller, the Ford Foundation and the U S Government (Desai, 1998). It was noticed as a conspicuous phase in global agriculture scenario since the 1960s. The term 'Green Revolution' was created by William Guard of the United States in 1968. It is the name given to the science based revolution of Third World agriculture (Shiva, 1997).
The Green Revolution in India begun in the late 1960s and with its achievement, India attained food self-sufficiency within a decade. In 1965, Mrs. Indra Gandhi decided to take a major step on Agriculture condition. Thus "Green Revolution" was functional in the period from 1967 to 1978 basically in parts of Punjab and Haryana. At this stage, the Green Revolution was concern only with Wheat & Rice. Dr. M S Swaminathan from India led the Green Revolution as the Project.
Nonetheless, this first wave of the Green Revolution was mainly limited in wheat crop and in northern India such as Punjab, resulting in a limited contribution to overall economic development of the country. In contrast, the agricultural growth in the 1980s (the second wave of the Green Revolution) involved almost all the crops including rice and covered the whole country, it allowed to generate rural income and ease rural poverty substantially. Such an upsurge of rural India as a market for non-agricultural products and services was an important condition for the speedy economic growth based on non-agricultural sectors development in India after the 1990s. The 1980s was a critical decade for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa to make a great deviation in the economic development subsequently. The repercussion for Sub-Saharan Africa is that raising income in rural areas through productivity growth of the agricultural sector, especially the principal food sector, is essential for the triumph of modern economic progression through industrialization.
Following are the major causes of development of green technology:
Continued expansion of farming areas: Green Revolution continued with quantitative expansion of farmlands.
Double-cropping existing farmland: Instead of one crop season per year, the decision was made to have two crop seasons per year. There had to be two "monsoons" per year. One would be the natural monsoon and the other an artificial monsoon.
Using seeds with superior genetics: This was the scientific aspect of the Green Revolution to use High Yielding Variety (HVY) of seeds.
The Green Revolution was determined by a technology advancement, comprising a package of modern inputs such as irrigation, improved seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides that together significantly increased crop production. But its execution also depended on strong public support for developing the technologies, building up the required infrastructure, ensuring that markets, finance, and input systems worked, and that ensured agriculturalists passable knowledge and economic incentive to embrace the technology package. Public interventions were especially vital for ensuring that small farmers were included, without which the Green Revolution would not be successful because it is for poor peoples. Efforts have been made to separate the contributions of the different components of the Green Revolution package, but in practice it was the combined impact of interventions and their powerful interactions that made the difference.
Irrigation: Asian countries had already invested in irrigation prior to the Green Revolution and by 1970 around 25 percent of the agricultural land was already irrigated. Reports indicated that in India, there were 10.4 million hectares of canal irrigated land in 1961, and 4.6 million hectares of tank irrigated land (Evenson, Pray, and Rosegrant 1999). Significant extra investments were made across Asia during the Green Revolution period, and the irrigated area grew from 25 percent to 33 percent of the agricultural area between 1970 and 1995.
Fertilizer: Use of fertilizer across Asia was also growing prior to the Green Revolution. In 1970, 23.9 kg of plant nutrients were applied per hectare of agricultural land and average use grew rapidly to reach 102.0 kg/ha by 1995.
Improved Seeds: Irrigation and fertilizer assisted to increase cereal yields, but their full impact was only realized after the development of high-yielding varieties. Scientists required to develop cereal varieties that were more receptive to plant nutrients, and that had shorter and stiffer straw that would not fall over under the weight of heavier heads of grains. They also wanted tropical rice varieties that could mature more quickly and grow at any time of the year, thereby permitting more crops to be grown each year on the same land. Varieties also needed to be resistant to major pests and diseases that flourish under intensive agribusiness conditions and to maintain desirable cooking and consumption traits. Borrowing from rice breeding work undertaken in China, Japan, and Taiwan, the fledging International Rice Research Institute (IIRI) in the Philippines developed semi-dwarf varieties that met most of these requirements and could be grown under a wide range of conditions.
It is appraised that the high-yielding varieties that driven the Green Revolution were not developed instantly but it was the outcome of a long and sustained research process. The initial varieties that were released also had to be adapted to counter evolving pest and environmental problems and better suited to local conditions and consumer needs. This required a continuing process of agricultural R & D.
There are considerable impact of green revolution on farming:
The green revolution wreaked ecological areas such as deteriorating soil quality; the overuse of water, poisoning from biocides and decreasing genetic diversity.
Soil: The Green Revolution, such as commercialized agriculture, tends to decrease the natural fertility of the soil. Because HYVs grow and mature faster, a second or third crop can be grown each year. Nevertheless, the lack of ploughs or winter crops such as sorghum, as well as continuous flooding or constant water cover, diminishes the soil's micronutrient content. Chemical fertilizers are used in ever increasing amounts, as there are no natural means of replacing soil fertility. Chemical fertilizers do not usually replace necessary trace elements in the soil. Furthermore, the use of dwarf varieties leads to a reduction of the grass that is available to reprocess organic matter into the soil. As HYVs are engineered to grow more efficiently, a larger portion of the plant becomes grain and less is consequently available for fertilizer or animal feed.
The Green Revolution also contributes to the salinization of the agricultural soil. Both salinization and water logging happen when agricultural land is over watered. As second or third crops are planted each year, rice growing land is flooded with water for longer portions of the year. This situation is made shoddier by badly maintained irrigation canals. Main problem is that without proper drainage, water tables may be raised to the root zone, starving the plants of oxygen and inhibiting their growth. Surface evaporation leads to the deposition of salt which "reduces crop harvests and ultimately, if the build-up becomes excessive, it kills the crops."
Excessive use of chemical herbicides and pesticides has also reduced the soil's resistance to disease. By decreasing naturally occurring organisms, chemical inputs allow disease to build up in the soils. Intensive, commercial agriculture contributes to additional soil problems in India, as well as all over the world. These soil problems include soil erosion resulting from irrigation on sloped land, reduced soil nutrient content, and over compaction of soil from the use of heavy machinery. A study, commissioned by the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development in the 1980s, found that 39% of India's 329 million total hectares were degraded (Lester R. Brown, 1998).
The situation was very different before the Green Revolution. Rereading Northern India's soils, Alfred Howard stated:
"Field records of ten centuries prove that the land produces fair crops year after year without falling in fertility. A perfect balance has been reached between the manurial requirements of the crops harvested and the natural processes which recuperate fertility."
G. Clarke specified in his presidential address to the Agriculture Section of the Indian Science Congress, that:
"When we examine the facts, we must put the Northern Indian cultivator down as the most economical farmer in the world as far as the utilization of the potent element of fertility, nitrogen, goes. He does more with a little nitrogen than any farmer I ever heard of. We need not concern ourselves with soil deterioration in these provinces. The present standard of fertility can be maintained indefinitely."
Water: The Green Revolution has also caused the depletion and pollution of water. Excessive water use required by HYVs called for increased irrigation but in many areas this has led to water being overused. Tube wells used to irrigate HYV crops have led to draw down problems on the water table. These "deeper water tables" are showed in Punjab and Tamil Nadu. In Punjab, groundwater balance is negative in many regions. In Tamil Nadu, during the seventies, water tables in some areas fell 25-30 metres (Brown, 1988).
As underground aquifers are further depleted by tube wells. Submersible pumps are exchanging centrifugal pumps, which are effective only to a certain depth. The move to submersible pumps has been made by more wealthy farmers who generally have large operational land holdings. The use of this technique can draw the water table down to even greater depths. Consequently, all agriculturalists in an area may be forced to upgrade their pumps or abandon tube well irrigation. However, if all farmers switch to submersible pumps, which are much more energy intensive than centrifugal pumps, the groundwater exploitation rate will be deepened. In Punjab, the groundwater balance is dangerous in three-fourths of the total area. Water overdraft for irrigation threatens the sustainability of the irrigation system itself.
Amongst other effects of the water demands made by HYV seeds are problems related with the construction and use of dams. They have considerable effect on human life as new dams often require the displacement of large numbers of people. Ecologically, the effect of dams and canals is also a concern. To increase irrigation to improve agricultural yields, their effect may actually be detrimental to agriculture. Dams and canals, greatly change the natural occurrence of water, leading to a possible impact upon climate, rainfall and monsoon patterns.
Pesticides and herbicides are intended to kill pests and weeds that impend crops. However, these biocides are threat to the health of the farmers who work with them, and also to the general population as a result of residues in food crops and contamination of drinking water. Many of the biocides exported to third world countries are considered too toxic for use in their countries of origin. Restricted or prohibited by industrial countries, DDT and benzene hexachloride (BHC) account for about three-quarters of the total pesticide use in India.
In some developing countries, without imposed regulation or proper understanding of the dangers, workforces engaged in spraying seldom use even elementary protective devices. In a report entitled "Tropical Farmers at Risk from Pesticides," the IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) presented that 55% of farmers in the Philippines who worked with pesticides suffered abnormalities in eyes, 54% in cardiovascular systems and 41% in lungs. Of the estimated 400,000 to 2 million pesticide poisonings that occur in the world each year, resulting in between 10,000 and 40,000 deaths, most are among farmers in developing countries.
It is evident in the case of Bhopal, India, where tens of thousands of people were infected by disastrous accident at a Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing plant. This leak of toxic gas caused approximately 2,000 deaths. This calamity is more horrible to the public than the much larger chronic effects.
These toxins also consumed by people through their food. The World Health Organization (WHO) has set tolerance limits of pesticide residues in food. In India, a study of food, including cereals, eggs and vegetables, found that 30% of the sample exceeded tolerable levels. Residues of DDT and BHC were both found in all 75 samples of breast milk collected from women in Punjab. However, these supposed carcinogens have not been directly related to an increase in diseases or deaths.
Genetic Diversity: Green Revolution agri-business can be categorized by its genetically uniform monocultures. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has cautioned huge loss of plant genetic diversity and the destruction of biodiversity. "The spread of modern commercial agriculture and the introduction of new varieties of crops are the main causes of the loss of genetic diversity." On one level, genetic diversity is reduced when monocultures of rice and wheat replace mixtures and rotation of diverse crops such as wheat, maize, millets, pulses, and oil seeds. On a second level, genetic diversity is reduced because the HYV varieties of rice and wheat come from a narrow genetic base. Introduced as the sole crop on many farms in a region, these genetically narrow seeds replace the diversity of native systems. "A single genetic strain of wheat -Sonalike- was grown on 67% of wheat fields in Bangladesh in 1983 and 30% of Indian wheat foelds in 1984." Shiva stated "the destruction of diversity and the creation of uniformity simultaneously involves the destruction of stability and the creation of vulnerability."
When single cultivars, such as the IR36 rice plant cover large numbers of fields, plague can spread. HYVs are raised to resist insects, diseases and environmental stresses. Chemical herbicides and pesticides, nonetheless, are believed to be necessary safeguards. The traditional strains that have coevolved with the local ecosystems, are replaced by externally produced seeds. These new seeds are more prone to local pests and diseases. As such, they need to be replaced, often within five years, but sometimes as often as every year or two. In contrast, traditional seeds are more durable as they build and maintain their resistances through gradual development.
As the genetic background of HYV crops is narrow, their ability to resist disease and pests has deteriorated relative to the ability of diseases and pests to overcome the resistant traits that have been farmed into the seeds. The whole ecosystem is affected.
Green revolution technology had greatly impacted on socio economic system.
Income Disparities: There is a debate among agricultural scientists that whether the Green Revolution has intensified income differences either within or between regions.
Unemployment: The initial effects of the Green Revolution on employment were positive in Punjab. In fact, an acute shortage of labour developed.
The transformation from traditional agriculture to the Green Revolution strategy has never been instant. India had gone through a period of grave food shortages and famines. To resolve such crisis, there evolved a change in the attitude of setting production maximisation as the priority in agricultural operations. Even at the time of famines and scarcities, British Government in India paid attention only to certain crops, which were of special interest to them. Production of commercial crops came to be organised on capitalist lines. Formation of a separate Department of Agriculture in the Government of India in 1871 and subsequent formation of Provisional departments, establishment of agricultural research centres, appointment of Commissions, formulation of an agricultural policy, all were parts of that attempt.
The colonial priorities and the corresponding strategy of production greatly impacted the social and economic situation of the Indian society. An important changeover was in the concept of village self-sufficiency, which had taken deep roots in rural India during the sixth or the seventh century A. D. and the notion disappeared completely during the British period (Menon, 1985).
After Independence, India implemented various programs such as Grow More Food Campaign, Intensive Agricultural Development Programme (IADP, 1950-51), Community Development Programme (1952), the National Extension Service (NES, 1953), and the Intensive Agricultural District Programme (IADP, 1960-61) to increase production and to ensure food security. All these programs were inaccessible preparations for the commencement of the Green Revolution strategy.
In the decade of post-independence, Green Revolution became the focus of attention for agricultural scientists and other policy makers in India and agriculture began to be completely refurbished according to the priorities set by the new pattern. Although preparations had been there, the outstanding performance of Indian agriculture started with the Green Revolution during the mid-sixties. It was feasible through many programs consisting of improved seeds, inorganic fertilizer, irrigation, and plant protection measures (PPCs) combined with agricultural research and development (R & D) and dedicated work of Indian farmers.
Fundamentally, Green Revolution was a "eureka" in biological technology, at the core of which was the 'miracle seeds'. Biological technology was generally considered to be the major form of agricultural technology (Evenson, 1993). Biotechnology, a hybrid of genetics and chemistry determines the maximum biological performance of plants and animals and also influences the effectiveness of other forms of technology as well.
States and regions differ with regard to the nature and extend of the Green Revolution platform. It depended on many factors such as the size of operational holdings, the availability of water, innovative nature of farmers, policy of the government etc. Punjab was one of the main Green Revolution areas in India. During period of 1964-85, there was wave of Green Revolution in Punjab (Goldman and Smith, 1995). Reports showed that wheat output rose more than fourfold from 2.44 million metric tonnes to 10.2 million tonnes (Bhalla et a1 1990). It is contended that part of the above trend was the result of the growth of wheat yields, which grew 120 per cent during 1965-78 and the remainder to increases in planted wheat area. Rice production in Punjab amplified more than tenfold, from 0.5 million tonnes in 1969 to 5.1 million tonnes in 1984-85 (Bhalla, et al., 1990). As a result, by 1985, per capita income in Punjab was 50 per cent higher than the national average (Chopra 1986).
During the 14 years (1965-78), the agricultural economy of Punjab was greatly transformed in almost all respects. The new varieties played a catalytic role in many of the changes. Along with HYVs, irrigation, fertilizer use, crop patterns, livestock, and mechanization all changed in type and intensity, most innovations reinforcing and stimulating others.
With regard to the area under HW seeds, Punjab had an increase from 3.58 to 99.5 per cent, compared to that of Haryana from 1.73 to 95.2 per cent during 1967 to 1984. Fertilizer consumption was greater in Punjab at all time, and extended to a greater rate than in Haryana. Between 1970-71 to1980-81, Punjab's consumption increased from 40.3 to 133.2 kilograms per hectare, compared to Haryana where the change was from 17.3 to 42.0 (Zarkovic, 1987).
In Tamil Nadu, several villages in North Arcot region in the Green Revolution period were studied by teams from Cambridge and Madras universities in 1972-73, an early stage of the introduction of new rice HWs. The studies found that the agricultural modifications had brought substantial benefits to almost all economic classes in the region including small paddy farmers and land less labourer.
The most noteworthy changes in the region's agricultural economy have been the modification to HY rice varieties, a large increase in fertilizer use, the development and mechanization of irrigation, associated with which has been an intensification of paddy production and the computerisation of a number of other activities. During 1983-84, over 90 per cent of the area in the region was under the new varieties.
Green Revolution in Kerala started as part of the national program, the result of a deliberate attempt by the central and the state governments to upsurge food production through the introduction of HWs and the increased use of chemical inputs like fertilizers and plant protection materials and agricultural practices of high production. As part of the Community Development Programme, Alappuzha and Palakkad districts in Kerala, were selected in 1962-63 to come under the Intensive Agricultural District Programme (IADP). The program was a co-operative effort by the Ford Foundation, the Government of India and the State Government. It is established that Kuttanad and Palakkad have been the two 'rice bowls' of the state and the IADP in Kerala concentrated mainly on paddy production. The two districts were selected for the implementation of the Program as they fulfilled certain standards such as assured water supply, freedom from natural hazards, well developed village institutions, chiefly co-operatives and panchayats, and potentiality for rapid increase in agricultural production (Panikar, 1983). A major area of Kuttanad lies in the Alappuzha District.
It can be said that the Green Revolution experience in India and Kerala has been one of weakening area and production, increasing cost of cultivation and growing dependence of off-farm inputs especially chemicals. Though the use of chemical fertilisers has increased at a shocking rate, the growth in the yield per hectare remained insignificant. Increased use of chemical fertilisers brought along with it the waning of environment especially in areas of mono cropping like Kuttanad.
- Use of high yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds or hybrid seeds
- Expansion of irrigation infrastructure
- Use of insecticides
- Use of pesticides
- Consolidation of holdings
- Land reforms
- Improved rural infrastructure
- Supply of agricultural credit
- Use of chemical or synthetic fertilizers
- Use of sprinklers or drip irrigation
- Use of advanced machinery
- Use of vector quantity
With the onset of the Green Revolution and the introduction of chemical fertilizers, synthetic herbicides and pesticides, high-yield crops, and the method of multiple cropping, the agricultural industry was capable to produce huge quantities of food. This increase in productivity made it possible to fulfil the needs of growing human population.
The Green Revolution was also advantageous to produce huger quantities of food, because it made it possible to grow more crops on roughly the same amount of land with a similar amount of effort. It lessened production costs and also resulted in cheaper prices for food in the market. To produce more food in limited land was also helpful to the environment because it meant that less forest or natural land needed to be converted to farmland to produce more food. It is shown in reports that from 1961 to 2008, as the human population increased by 100% and the production of food rose by 150%, the amount of forests and natural land converted to farm only increased by 10%. The natural land that is not needed for agricultural land is safe for the time being, and can be utilized by animals and plants for their natural territory.
Other advantages of green revolution are as under:
- Yields increased three times.
- Multiple cropping.
- Other crops grown which varied the diet.
- Excess to sell in cities creating a profit to enhance the standard of living.
- Allows purchase of fertilizers, machinery etc.
- India becomes self-sufficient in food grains.
Although the Green Revolution was good approach to produce more food for habitant and it exert less pressure on environment, there were also some issues associated with this period that affected both the environment and society. The extensive use of chemical fertilizers and synthetic herbicides and pesticides radically influenced the environment and resulted in pollution and erosion. The new materials added to the soil and plants contaminated the soil and water systems around the fields. The pollution of the water exposed people and the environment downstream to the chemicals being used in the farm fields. The pollution of the soil resulted in lower soil quality, which augmented the risk of erosion of the topsoil. The detrimental effect green revolution is that the new farming techniques lead to serious pollution of drinking water causing cancer and other diseases.
Besides pollution, the environment was also affected by the large irrigation systems that were required to sustain the growth of the plants. More water required for maintenance of plants which put pressure on the natural water reserves and resulted in water scarcities and droughts. The environment was also negatively exaggerated by the Green Revolution due to the consumption of more energy. During the period of 1900 to 2000, the amount of energy put into agriculture worldwide increased 80 times due to the shift from human and animal labour to the use of large machines. The upsurge in energy consumption and the dependency on more fossil fuels has led to pollution and degrade the environment.
The Green Revolution is preparing to give way to the Bio-revolution based on genetic engineering.
To summarize, the green revolution theorized farming change in technological way. Due to commencement of green revolution technology, farmers found innovative techniques for farming and produce large quantities of food grains to satisfy the needs of people. The phrase green revolution denotes the conviction that agriculture was being calmly transformed through science and technology, gaining the economic growth of modernization while avoiding the social costs of mass disturbance and disorder usually related with rapid change. As a technological modernisation, the Green Revolution changed lifestyle of world populace. It is clearly evident in the case of Punjab in which rapid transformation from subsistence to commercialized agriculture has had enormous cultural, social, economic and ecological effects. The Green Revolution was a constant process of change and even today, continuing improvements of cereal varieties and management practices help support and advance the high levels of productivity that were initially accomplished. In brief, it is established that the Green Revolution resulted in a jumbo rise in the overall production and productivity of food grains in India, wheat and rice in particular. The farmers were aided the most because of higher returns on their investment. They had a bumper produce due to the HYV seeds.