Essay on Green Revolution in India


Green revolution refers to the development and use of such HYV seeds during the decade of I960 which led to phenomenal increase in the output of food crops. The term was first used by the Ameri­can scientist Dr. William Gadd. In India the green revolution denotes a positive change in agriculture brought about by the substitution of traditional tech­niques and methods of cultivation by modern ones.

Its foundation was laid down by the scientists of Rockefeller Foundation (Mexico) to develop new varieties of wheat in the decade of 1950 which were dwarf and more productive than the traditional vari­eties.

These varieties were more resistant to seasonal changes, quick maturing and receptive to chemical fertilisers. Because of this contribution the Director of the programme Dr. Norman Borlaug was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. During 1960 decade the Rockefeller Foundation’s International Rice Research Institute, Manila (Philippines) developed an im­proved seed of rice by the hybridization of the Indonesian and Taiwanese varieties which yielded good harvest. These HYV seeds of wheat and rice rapidly spread to different parts of the world paving the way for green revolution.


In India the HYV Programme began in 1966- 67 with the introduction of new fertilizer-responsive dwarf wheat’s developed in Mexico. At first a group of agricultural scientists belonging to Ford Founda­tion was invited in 1959 which submitted its report in April 1959 to improve the conditions of the Indian agriculture. Consequently the Intensive Agricul­tural District Programme (IADP) was initiated in seven selected districts of the country (West Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, Shahabad in Bihar, and Raipur in Madhya Pradesh. Thanjavur in Tamilnadu, Ludhiana in Punjab, Pali in Rajasthan and Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh) in 1960-61.

The IADP used a package programme of raising food grain production by providing loans/subsidies, improved seeds, fertiliz­ers and agricultural implements to farmers. In 1962 the gift of four dwarf varieties of seeds from Norman Borlaug also helped in the success of above pro­gramme. Encouraged by the success of the pro­gramme it was extended to 114 districts of the country in October, 1965 as IAAP (Intensive Agri­cultural Area Programme).

The key element of this maximizing process under “new strategy” was the injection of large capital and technological inputs, first in the selected areas and subsequently to enlarge its coverage to other parts of the country. In 1966-67 the new agricultural policy emphasised the short- term accelerated agricultural production (of food grains) by adopting modern scientific methods of farming, by providing landownership rights to landless peasants through land reforms and by intro­ducing institutional and infrastructural changes so as to ensure remunerative prices for agricultural commodities. Thus new policy put greater emphasis on the use of HYV seeds and was termed as HYVP (high yielding varieties programme). Because the success of HYVP depended upon the availability of other material inputs such as fertilizers, irrigation and chemicals for plant protection hence the pack­age of new agricultural policy besides the use of HYV seeds included extension of irrigation facili­ties with particular reference to ground water re­sources, proper use of chemical fertilisers, promo­tion of plant protection measures, use of improved farm machineries, provision for cheap agricultural credit facilities, improvement in marketing and stor­age facilities, diversification of agriculture, remu­nerative prices for agricultural commodities and promotion of agricultural researches and training courses for better crop management.

In India the green revolution began in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh with the use of HYV seeds in wheat cultivation. But by 1983 it also included rice cultivation and extended its domain to Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Under the impact of green revolution the production of wheat increased from 123 lakh tonnes (1964-65) to 470.5 lakh tones (1985-86) and then to 551.3 lakh tones (1990-91); the current (1999-2000) production be­ing 675.6 lakh tones.


This was mainly due to phenomenal increase in per hectare yield of wheat during this period. The per hectare yield of wheat was only 916 kg in 1964-65 which increased to 2281 kg/ ha. In 1990-91 (increase of 149%); the current (1999-2000) yield being 2755 kg/ha. The per hectare yield in Punjab is still higher than the national average (in 1985-86 3531 kg/ha and 2046 kg/ha respectively).

In 1966-67 only 4.2 per cent of the total wheat area of the country was put under HYV, which rose to 35 per cent in 1970-71, 57 percent in 1973-74, 82.7 per cent in 1985-86, 84.7 per cent in 1990-91 and 90.6 per cent in 1995-96. In terms of meeting India’s increasing food needs, the HYV was largely responsible for about seven times increase in wheat production between 1965-66 and 1998-99 (Table 8. XV).

After wheat the effect of green revolution was seen in the cultivation of rice crop. In 1966-67 only 2.5% of the total rice cropped area was under HYV which increased to 14.9% in 1970-71, 45.4% in 1980-81, 64.2% in 1990-91 and 77.4% in 1995-96. Consequently the production of rice increased from 306 lakh tones in 1965-66 to 536 lakh tones in 1980-81 and 860 lakh tones in 1998-99 recording about 18% growth between the last 33 years (1965- 66 to 1998-99). Similarly the per hectare yield of rice has risen from 862 kg in 1965-66 to 1747 kg in 1998- 99, recording a growth of 103% during the last 33 years (Table 8. XV) Above data, when compared with the wheat crop very well prove that green revolution has not been as effective over rice crop as in case of wheat.

The per hectare yield of rice is still much lower in comparison to the international standard (S. Korea 6350 kg/ha, Japan 6330, Egypt 5780, China 5733 and world 3560). Infect HYV rice has not been very popular in traditional rice producing areas.


Also the greater susceptibility of the new seeds to pests and diseases, lack of assured irriga­tion, less use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides (rice farmers are poor than wheat growers of Punjab and Haryana) and damage to dwarf variety crops during floods have made rice ‘orphan’ of the ‘Green Revolution’ (Tirtha and Krishan, 1996, p. 176).

The green revolution has been still less effec­tive in augmenting the production of coarse grains, pulses and oil seeds. In 1970-71 8.5% of the area under maize, 4.6% under jowar and 15.5% under bajra was utilised for HYV which increased to58.3%, 78.9% and 73.4% respectively by 1995-96. The per cent increase in the production of these crops has been 131 (maize), 10 (jowar) and 84 (bajra) between 1965-66 and 1998-99 (Table 8.XV). Although there has been gradual improvement in the yield of these crops but the fall in the area coverage (particularly of jowar and bajra) neutralises the effect of gain and exhibits the decreasing popularity of these crops amongst the farmers.

The production of pulses al­most remained stationary during the last 33 years leading to serious crisis and protein deficiency in Indian foods. The output of oil seeds could not make much headway upto 1987-88 (fluctuating between 10 to 12 million tonnes) after which the popularity of sunflower cultivation in rained areas of the Penin­
sula gave sudden boosting to its production. In a nutshell the impact of Green Revolution on the Indian agriculture may be summarised in following words.

1. The Green Revolution led to the develop­ment of intensive agriculture production system which accelerated agricultural production and paved the way for self sufficiency in respect of food grains.


2. Green Revolution enabled Indian agricul­ture to change from subsistent to commercial and market-oriented.

3. The adoption of new technology under Green Revolution has created more employment opportunity in the agriculture.

4. Green Revolution has strengthened the relationship between agriculture and industry. Con­sequently back linkages have also become active along with forward linkages.

5. The Green Revolution has enabled farmers to obtain increasing returns from agriculture by greater utilisation of agricultural inputs.


6. Green Revolution has encouraged higher adoption of agricultural innovations by the farmers.

7. Green Revolution has increased rural pros­perity. It is bound to have secondary and tertiary impact over rural economic and social system.

Besides these advantages the Green Revolu­tion also has some negative aspects also which are briefly described below:

1. Green Revolution may pave way for capi­talistic farming in the country. It needs higher in­vestment in agriculture which is beyond the reach of the small and marginal farmers. Its gains are re­stricted to big farmers (8.5%). The study of Green Revolution in Punjab by Ashok Rudra, Majid and Talib has proved that Green Revolution has been more successful in farmers who have big land hold­ings. Fransov Frankwell (USAID) has also drawn similar conclusion.

2. Green Revolution has increased the eco­nomic disparity amongst the farmers. According to Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao the so called Green Revolution has widened the economic disparity amongst the rural folk. Many small farmers have been compelled to sell out their holdings and there has been increase in socio-economic tensions.

3. The new strategy has highlighted the ne­cessity of institutional reforms in the Indian agricul­ture.

4. It has created three kinds of conflicts in rural areas, namely: between large and small farm­ers, between owners and tenant farmers and between employers and employees on agricultural farms.

5. The mechanisation accompanied with Green Revolution has created large scale labour displace­ment and problem of unemployment in rural areas. Uma K. Srivastava, Robert W. Crown and E.O. Heady are of opinion that while biological (seed- fertilisers) innovations are labour absorbing, the mechanical innovations are labour saving. Hence premature mechanisation in surplus labour econo­mies, such as India’s will aggravate the problem of rural unemployment.

6. Recent studies have proved that agricul­tural production in Green Revolution areas has ei­ther remained stationary or has shown declining trend. The indiscriminate and unscientific use of ground water resources and application of chemical fertilisers and insecticides have led to environmen­tal crisis in such areas. The gradual loss of soil fertility, increasing alkalinity and salinity, water logging, depletion of ground-water resources, decreasing bio diversity, chemical poisoning of soils, surface water, plants and food stuffs are some of the emerging problems in the areas characterised by Green Revolution.

7. The impact of Green Revolution is limited to a few food crops like wheat, rice, maize, and bajra only leaving out pulses, oil seeds, cash crops and fodder crops, its gains are limited to a selected region of the country, i.e. Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and some selected districts of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. This is yet to gain popularity in other parts of the country. Also it has benefitted only big land holders which constitute only 1% of the Indian peasantry and has also helped in the concentration of rural wealth.

8. Describing the waning effects of Green Revolution Lester Brown and Halken in their book {Full House) have predicted that by the year 2030 A.D. India will have to import about 40 million tons of food grains annually which would be four times of the import of 1966.

9. The application of new technology under Green Revolution in large farms has led to the substitution of human labour with mechanical proc­esses. The greatest sufferer would be landless la­bourers. This may increase rural unemployment, and lead to urban migration, crowding of cities, slum formation and socio-economic tension.

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