Q: The Green Revolution was to reduce the hunger problem in the world, but did it? On the whole, I feel that the Green Revolution helped to solve the problem of poverty to a certain extent. While it greatly reduced poverty in some countries, other countries were not as fortunate and did not enjoy the benefits the Green Revolution brought about. Hence, the Green Revolution only helped to solve the issue of poverty in some parts of the world but did not completely eradicate the issue. The most significant benefit of the Green Revolution was that there was higher yield and an increase in food production.
The development of high yield varieties meant that only a few species of crops, such as rice, had to be grown. In India, for example, there were about 30,000 rice varieties prior to the Green Revolution, as compared to today where there are only ten, which are the most productive types of rice. With these selected types of rice, farmers could produce more crops within a shorter period of time and earn more money, which then lead to a better standard of living. In addition, cereal production more than doubled in developing nations between the years 1961–1985. Yields of rice, maize, and wheat increased steadily during that period.
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The production increases can be attributed equally to irrigation, fertilizer, and seed development, some of which might have disease-fighting capabilities which help to increase its lifespan and thus the profit of the farmer. With higher yield and increased food production around the year, farmers earned more profit from the crops they harvested which allowed them to buy more food supplies. This increased their wealth and also helped to lessen the extent of their hunger problems. On the other hand, there have been some issues with high yield varieties that have been produced during the period of the Green Revolution.
The mono-cropping of high yield varieties increased the susceptibility of rice crops to pests and diseases. This posed a threat to the growth and survival of the crops and lead to the harmful solution of using more pesticides, which has a negative impact on the environment. Lastly, “super pests” might develop over time, which adapt to become resistant to pesticides after long periods of exposure to pesticides on crops.
The solution to this problem would again be to increase the dosage of pesticides used on crops, which would further harm the environment. Most importantly, the increased use of pesticides would cause people to spend ore money on such solutions, thus causing a decrease in their wealth and preventing poverty from being solved. Economic problems also came about due to the Green Revolution. Since more advanced technology and equipment was used during the period of the Green Revolution, the cost of production rose.
Thus, only some people were able to afford and benefit from these techniques. This then led to social problems such as a large income gap or rich-poor division in some countries, where only farmers who were wealthy enough could utilise the advanced technology to produce better crops faster in order to gain wealth.
Farmers who were initially wealthier than the others became even wealthier, thus widening the income gap amongst them and leaving poverty as a remaining issue. This scenario was clearly seen in the case of Africa, which is a poor third-world country. Even though there had been numerous attempts to introduce the successful concepts from the Mexican and Indian projects into Africa, these programs were generally less successful, as there was widespread corruption, a lack of infrastructure and a lack of will on the part of the government in Africa.
Environmental factors, such as the availability of water for irrigation, diversity in slope and soil types also contributed towards this phenomenon. From these examples, it is clear that only some countries benefitted from the Green Revolution and hunger was only reduced to a minute extent in certain countries. Lastly, with technological advancements, improved farming techniques came about which led to self-sufficiency in food production. Previously, farmers in some countries were only able to grow and harvest crops at a certain time of the year or once every few years, thus making their income source unreliable and unsustainable.
With the technology from the Green Revolution, farmers could then produce crops all year round, which brought about many social benefits. With a stable and predictable source of income, the standard of living of farmers would greatly be increased due to a higher degree of wealth and material comfort available to them. They would then be able to afford better housing, while daily necessities such as food and water would no longer be their primary concern. As their standard of living increased gradually, the farmers no longer suffered from hunger and the rate of poverty decreased.
As a result of farmers earning a higher income due to the advanced technology used in the Green Revolution, the economy thrived and was boosted. In conclusion, the Green Revolution was more beneficial than detrimental, as it benefitted most countries except those whose economic, political and environmental factors were unsuitable to cater to the advancement of the Green Revolution. In general, I feel that the Green Revolution helped to decrease poverty around the world to a large extent in the majority of the cases, which is seen in India and Mexico where they reaped many benefits that helped to reduce the issue of hunger and poverty.
The Green Revolution implies:
- Well-marked improvement in agricultural production in a short period and
- The sustenance of a higher level of agricultural production over a fairly long period of time.
The miracle seeds and dwarf and early-maturing varieties have brought about a sudden transformation in Indian agriculture. A vital change with revolutionary significance was the extensive adoption of multiple cropping patterns.
The machine has entered Indian farming in a big way and tractors, harvesters, pumping sets, croppers, etc. have come to be recognized as implements for daily use. Similarly manures and fertilizers have been extensively used. Institutional finance for agricultural development has made credit easily available to farmers.
It was within a span of a decade and a half that world agriculture was totally transformed particularly in regard to the cultivation of wheat and paddy. The increase in yield as compared to the erstwhile varieties has been two to three times higher.
It is a fact that Green Revolution has occurred in India since 1967. Dantwala however said that, the, Green Revolution in India has been technological in character rather than institutional.
The effects of Green Revolution can be discussed under two heads:
- Economic impact of Green Revolution
- Sociological impact of Green Revolution.
Economic Effects of Green Revolution
The important economic effects of the Green Revolution are :
1. Increase in Agricultural Production: The first major direct effect of the green revolution has been the sharp increase in agricultural production. As a result of new agricultural strategy, food grains output increased substantially.
So far as food grains are concerned, wheat seems to have made rapid strides with its production increasing from 11.1 million tons in the Third Plan (annual average) 63 million tons in 1995-96.
In the second phase, the revolution has spread to other crops. Most of the important crops registered a sizable increase during the seventies.
2. Increase in Productivity: The productivity of agriculture, as measured in terms of yield per hectare, has increased.
3. Impact on Employment: Capital-intensive techniques of the new agricultural strategy are supposed to be also at the same time labor-intensive. This new technology is characterized by frequent application of water, fertilizers, insecticides, double cropping, larger volumes of transportation, Marketing and food-processing. This will lead to increased employment and increased income among the agricultural laborers and small farmers.
4. Dependence on the Industrial Sector: An important aspect of the new agricultural strategy is the stress it lays, on making agriculture dependent on industries for its inputs. The traditional Indian agriculture was self-sufficient in the matter of its input requirements. But the new strategy attaches great importance of industrial products as agricultural inputs. As domestic investments always involve a great deal of foreign participation, the new strategy involves encouraging a direct role of the multinationals in agricultural development.
(5) Impact on Agrarian Structure: One aspect of the new strategy would make the agrarian structure dualistic. It would consist of a prosperous, production-oriented, profit oriented and technology-oriented, thin crust of big farms and a great mass of small farmers that would lag behind in matters of production, profit and technology. The thin crust of big farms would swallow up the greater part of the resources that would be allocated by the state for the agricultural sector.
(6) Impact on Landless Labor: In the green revolution areas, there has been a marked increase in demand for wage-labor particularly at the peak period. As a result of increased demand for labor, the position of labor in the market will improve and they will fight against economic and social oppression.
Sociological Impact of Green Revolution
The green revolution has pushed up the level of income in the rural sector of the economy. The increase in production has generated larger incomes in the rural sector and has also widened regional disparities.
1. Inter-Personal Inequalities: The green revolution has promoted inequalities and has widened the already existing gulf between the rich and the poor in the rural sector. A large part of the benefits of the green revolution has gone to a privileged section of rich farmers who are in a position to afford the new strategy which is a package programme. The new strategy needs substantial investments which are generally beyond the means of a majority of the small and marginal farmers.
2. Regional Inequalities: The new agricultural strategy has restricted to only a few regions. As a result, the benefits of the new strategy have remained concentrated in this area only. Two-thirds of the total cultivable land areas have been kept outside the influence of the revolution.
3. Change in Attitudes: One encouraging feature of the green revolution is the change in the attitudes of farmers in areas where new agricultural strategy has being practiced. Increase in productivity has raised the status of agriculture from a low-level subsistence activity to a money-making activity. The Indian farmers have accepted technical change in the pursuit of profit thus belaying the criticism against them that they are backward, traditional, conservative and unresponsive to price and productivity incentives.
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