India is among the world's largest agricultural economies, sustaining a huge population. At the time of independence, India's economy was heavily reliant on agriculture. Nonetheless, the agricultural sector was in turmoil. Productivity was poor and heavily reliant on the monsoon, there were no irrigation facilities, no infrastructure, and no modern technologies.
Agriculture plays a pivotal role in Indian society. Despite contributing 19% to the GDP, agriculture and related industries continue to be the primary source of income for over 60% of the people. Its forward and backward linking effects not only overall economic development, but it may also alleviate poverty and hunger by providing a source of income and food security.
What was Green Revolution?
The success of the green revolution was dependent on irrigation infrastructure, fertiliser utilisation, HYV seeds, pesticides, and insecticides. Agriculture gradually adapted technology.
High Yielding Variety seeds- These are dwarf varieties that mature in a short period when provided with enough water and fertiliser. The adoption of this intense method made breakthrough in the agriculture sector, which was critical in eradicating famine and the issue of food shortages.
Infrastructure was improved to ensure regular irrigation.
The use of technology increased, agriculture transformed from labour intensive to the capital intensive sector.
The use of fertiliser, pesticide and insecticide was increased.
Productivity and Land- land deteriorated as a result of the extensive use of chemical fertilisers. As a consequence of misuse of land, there is salinisation and waterlogging. Chemicals and land were overused as a result of intensive commercialisation. Productivity declines gradually.
Technology and its access-Farmers have become very reliant on the market as a result of new technologies. It was not economical or accessible to everyone. Only wealthy farmers could afford it since the input was too expensive.
Ecological Imbalance- The Green Revolution encouraged homogeneous monoculture. The focus was mostly on rice and wheat. When monoculture replaces the combination and rotation of varied crops such as millets, maize, pulses, and oilseeds -genetic diversity is decreased. Because HYV types of rice and wheat developed from a narrow genetic base, the diversity of the natural system was destroyed. Traditional seeds are more resilient because they adapt and develop resistance to local circumstances. The modified seeds were more vulnerable to pests and disease in the region.
Increased Regional Disparity-The introduction of new technology exacerbated regional disparities. Not all farmers benefitted equally. The government prioritised regions that were already prosperous and had irrigation systems in place. They thrived while others were ignored. Polarisation was at its peak, and the Gangetic belt benefited greatly. Not to forget the high cost of the HYV seed and input package, which exacerbated inequalities. Poor farmers could not adopt new strategies due to their poor financial conditions and poor creditworthiness.
Dr M.S. Swaminathan, the father of the Green Revolution in India, had forewarned as early as 1968 that “Intensive cultivation of land without conservation of soil fertility and soil structure would lead ultimately to the springing of deserts”.
Strengthening of forward and Backward linkages- Even though the relationship between agriculture and industry has existed for a long time, the Green Revolution strengthened it. A strong forward linkage was seen in agriculture, supply of raw materials to industry. The advent of modern technology increased the need for capital provided by industries.
According to MS Swaminathan, the Green Revolution of the 1960s helped to instil confidence and achieve a balance between population expansion and food output.
What is Evergreen Revolution?
The Green Revolution altered India's image from "begging bowl" to "bread basket." However, in order to address the Green Revolution's shortcomings and vulnerabilities, we must make it evergreen. Despite the fact that India is now self-sufficient in many sectors of food production, it still depends on imports for commodities such as pulses and oilseeds, where output has not kept up with demand.
Dr. M.S.Swaminathan first used the phrase "Evergreen Revolution" to describe a method of improving production and productivity in such a way that environmental and agricultural objectives are not mutually antagonistic. The premise is to produce more with less, less land, less pesticide, less water, and an evergreen revolution is required to achieve sustainable agriculture.
In the words of KR Narayanan, former President of India, ‘green revolution can be converted into an evergreen revolution only if there is a paradigm shift in our research and development strategy, leading to a change from a purely commodity-centred approach to one based on an integrated natural resources management strategy’.
The term "evergreen revolution" refers to long-term productivity growth that is not harmful to the environment or society. The evergreen revolution involves the integration of ecological principles in technology development and dissemination.
Introducing new information and communication technology (ICT) to Indian farmers may boost agricultural output. ICT initiatives can tackle key challenges in the agricultural value-chain through networking on weather alerts, the sowing period, the prices of produce. One of the foundations of the Digital India initiative is e-kranti, which focuses on technology for farmers by providing real-time pricing information, online ordering of inputs, and payment through mobile banking.
GM food crops are also essential but these must be utilised with caution .These crops have been proven to significantly improve yield through high levels of disease and pest resistance, improved weed management, abiotic stress tolerance and nutrient-use efficient crops.
NITI Aayog’s 3-year road map for ‘evergreen revolution’
In a more recent development, the NITI Aayog released a three-year strategy (2017-20) aimed at pushing agricultural growth to new heights. The three-year programme includes attempts to strengthen the agriculture industry and ensure that farmers' income doubles by 2022.
The new initiatives include the use of cutting-edge technology to increase farm productivity, the promotion of climate-resilient indigenous varieties , the launch of a nationwide programme to harvest the benefits of space technology in agriculture and allied sectors.
Infrastructure does not only mean irrigation’s infrastructure, today with diversified needs there is need for cold storage and enhanced storage capacity . There is problem in transporting food items due to lack of cold storage infrastructure and owing to lack of storage capacity we witness rotting of tonnes of food grains.
To improve food security, it is time to stop importing prepackaged solutions and instead pool local resources and expertise. Food security should be achieved via a balanced combination of improved technical competence, stable food and agricultural policy, and effective governance to ensure enhanced implementation. Reducing regional inequities, as well as cross-learning and information sharing, may all help to improve food security.