The Green Revolution in India began in the mid-1960s marking a transition from traditional agriculture in India and the introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds and the associated agricultural techniques.
The Main achievements of the Green Revolution are:
- Increase in Agricultural Production and productivity: The production and productivity of wheat, rice, maize and bajra has substantially increased.
- Less Dependence on Imports: After the green revolution, India was finally on its way to self-sufficiency. There was now enough production for the population and to build a stock in case of emergencies. In fact, India was able to start exporting its agricultural produce.
- Employment: The green revolution has created jobs in the supporting industries like Irrigation, transportation, food processing, marketing for the workforce.
- A Benefit to the Farmers: The Green Revolution has increased the income of farmers and landless labourers. It enabled them to shift to commercial farming from only sustenance farming.
Negative Impacts of the Green Revolution are:
- Reduction in genetic diversity: Farmers have traditionally planted a wide variety of crops with unique genotypes. The planting of fewer crop varieties for producing high yields can reduce genetic diversity among crop species in a country. This has also led to the loss of distinct indigenous crops from cultivation and also caused extinction.
- Greater vulnerability to pests: The resistance to one species of pest due to genetic modification might invite other species of pests to attack the crop as in the case of bollworm being replaced by other pest species in the case of Bt cotton.
- Displacement of small farmers: The Green Revolution has displaced the agricultural labourers, leading to rural unemployment. The mechanical innovations like tractors have displaced agricultural labourers.
- Land Degradation: The overuse of chemical fertilizers to get high yield causes physical and chemical degradation of the soil by altering the natural microflora and increasing the alkalinity and salinity of the soil
- Ground water depletion: High-yielding crop varieties can also increase irrigation requirements thus placing stresses on India’s water budget. The excessive use of groundwater for irrigation has depleted the water table in many parts of the country.
- Ecological and health Impacts: The excessive use of pesticides increases the presence of its residues in foods and environment. There are concerns over increased chemicals being used in growing high-yielding varieties of crops and the consequent health effects.
- Income disparity among farmers: The high yields, were possible due to the seeds being highly responsive to certain inputs such as irrigation water and fertilizers. By requiring greater investments in agricultural production, the green revolution in India has placed small and marginal farmers at a distinct disadvantage.
- Increased Social conflicts: It led to polarisation of the rural society. It has created three types of conflicts in the rural community, namely, between large and small farmers, between owner and tenant farmer, between employers and employees on the agricultural farms.
There is a need of a more comprehensive policy environment that can protect farmers, human health and the environment from the negative impacts of the green revolution in India. A balance must also be found between traditional techniques and modern farming as also with natural growth.