Did the Green Revolution Succeed in India?
Saby Ganguly (an Indian business writer who was a former editorial consultant to the World Organization of Building Officials (WOBO), an affiliate of the United Nations) wrote a report on the success of the green revolution in India entitled: “ From the Bengal Famine to the Green Revolution ”
Yield per unit of farmland, Ganguly wrote, “improved by more than 30 per cent between 1947 [when India gained political independence from the British] and 1979 when the Green Revolution was considered to have delivered its goods."
The ‘green revolution’ didn’t begin until 1967 so the writer is counting 20 years of increasing agricultural yield from India’s ‘Land Transformation Program’ and only 12 years of increasing yield from the Green Revolution. The tick for success in this period, however, is given by Ganguly to the GR. This is also irrespective of the fact that the variety of crops used in the GR needed more water, more fertilizer, more fungicides and other chemicals.
as well as in the types of technology used. Hundreds of scientists from around the world that contributed to the IAASTD report and recognized that “Knowledge systems and human ingenuity in science, technology, practice and policy is needed to meet the challenges, opportunities and uncertainties ahead.” Their reports concluded: This recognition will require a shift to nonhierarchical development models ” in agriculture.
Crops used in green revolution HYVC’s(High Yielding Varieties Crops) also known as miracle seeds which could produce 5 times the more grain per hectare
Phase I (1947-64): This was the Jawaharlal Nehru era where the major emphasis was on the development of infrastructure for scientific agriculture. The steps taken included the establishment of fertilizer and pesticide factories, construction of large multi-purpose irrigation-cum-power projects, organization of community development and national extension programmes and, above all, the starting of agricultural universities, beginning with the post graduate school of the Indian Agricultural Research Institute established in 1958 as well as new agricultural research institutions, as for example the Central Rice Research Institute at Cuttack, and the Central Potato Research Institute, Simla .
During this period, population started increasing by over three per cent per year as a result of both the steps taken to strengthen public health care systems and advances in preventive and curative medicine. The growth in food production was inadequate to meet the consumption needs of the growing population, and food imports became essential. Such food imports, largely under the PL-480 programme of the United States, touched a peak of 10 million tonnes in 1966.
P hase II (1965-1985): This period coincides with the leadership of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi with Moraji Desai and Charan Singh serving as prime ministers during 1977-79. The emphasis was on maximizing the benefits of the infrastructure created during Phase I, particularly in the areas of irrigation and technology transfer. Major gaps in the strategies adopted during Phase-I were filled, as for example the introduction of semi-dwarf high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice, which could utilize sunlight, water and nutrients more efficiently and yield two to three times more than the strains included in the Intensive Agriculture District Programme (IADP) of the early sixties.
This period also saw the reorganization and strengthening of agricultural research, education and extension and the creation of institutions for providing farmers assured marketing opportunities and remunerative prices for their produce. A National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) was set up. All these steps led to a quantum jump in the productivity and production of crops like wheat and rice, a phenomenon christened in 1968 as the green revolution. C. Subramaniam (1964-67) and later Jagjivan Ram provided the necessary public policy guidance and support.
The green revolution generated a mood of self-confidence in our agricultural capability. The gains were consolidated during the VI Five Year Plan period (1980-85) when for the first time agricultural growth rate exceeded the general economic growth rate, largely because of the priority accorded to irrigation. Also, the growth rate in food production exceeded that of population. The VI Plan achievement illustrates the benefits arising from farmer- centred priorities in investment and from the emphasis placed on bridging the gap between scientific know-how and field level do-how.
P hase III (1985-2000): This was the era of Rajiv Gandhi, P.V. Narasimha Rao and Atal Bihari Vajpayee with several other prime minister serving for short periods.
This phase was characterized by greater emphasis on the production of pulses and oilseeds as well as of vegetables, fruits and milk. Rajiv Gandhi introduced organizational innovations like the Technology Missions, which resulted in a rapid rise in oilseed production. The mission approach involves concurrent attention to conservation, cultivation, consumption and commerce. Rainfed areas and wastelands received greater attention and a Wasteland Development Board was set up. River pollution received attention and a Ganga Action Plan was started.
Wherever an end-to-end approach was introduced involving attention to all links in the production-consumption chain, progress was steady and sometimes striking, as in the case of milk and egg production. This period ended with large grain reserves with government, with the media highlighting the co-existence of ‘grain mountains and hungry millions’. This period also saw a gradual decline in public investment in irrigation and the infrastructure essential for agricultural progress as well as a gradual collapse of the cooperative credit system. Large grain reserves led to a mood of complacency as regards priority to agriculture.