The not so green aftermath of the Green Revolution in India – Techweu

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The previous article focused on the effects of green revolution on a global scale. Today, we will be taking a look closer at home.

Following the years after 1964, India witnessed a record-breaking increase in the production of wheat and rice.  A whopping 131 million tonnes were produced in 1978/1979. This ensured that India was no longer dependent on foreign nations for food grains. India was able to not only become self sufficient but also become one of the largest cereal exporters in the world.

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India’s economic growth

India’s economic growth accelerated upwards

India’s agricultural boom led to the creation of large number of jobs and not just for the agricultural sector. The Green Revolution focused on the introduction of technology to the field to make agricultural productivity better.  This created plenty of jobs for industrial workers and India launched factories and hydroelectric power stations as well.

Summing up the benefits

Indian farmers witnessed a huge turn of luck in their favor
  • Increase in agricultural production
  • Prosperity of farmers
  • Reduction in the food grain imports
  • Capitalistic farming
  • Farm mechanization
  • Rural employment

Long run

As India’s exponential agricultural growth was arrested and it came to a standstill, some other effects have started appearing over the years. Research has shown that India has lost over one lakh of indigenous rice varieties; including some with medicinal properties.

Nutritional Poverty

India has witnessed a reduction in the growth and consumption of coarse cereals like millets, food of animal origin and fruits and vegetables. This has led to an increase in what can only be defined as nutritional poverty. People are found to be lacking in micronutrients leading to many problems like anemia.  

Why cultivate Indigenous varieties?

Why indigenous varieties need to be cultivated
  • Agriculture becomes genetically diverse and sustainable.
  • Naturally adaptable to the climatic conditions of the region
  • Reduction in carbon footprint
  • Consumption of indigenous food increases micronutrient levels

Socio-economic effects

Small and marginal farmers have also been on the receiving end of the dark side of this revolution. Income disparities only heightened after the green revolution. The large and wealthy farmers were able to adopt the new technology and provide the necessary investment. The small farmers however, sunk further and further in debt.

What are high yielding varieties?

High yielding varieties are only ‘high yielding’ if they are provided with the stated amount of fertilizers and irrigation. Under normal fertilizer usage; they give average or below average yields. Indigenous varieties cannot tolerate the amount of fertilizers used. This worked against the small farmers as well.

Way forward

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While India is not an agrarian economy anymore, it is still important to remember that 58% of India’s rural population depend on agriculture. While the soil becomes more and more abused, the yields will only go down. The subsidization of high yielding varieties should be stopped along with discouraging monoculture. Farmers need to be encouraged to grow different varieties of rice and buyers need to be taught to consume more variety.

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