The Green Revolution Essay
Broad Topic: The Green Revolution
Narrowed Topic: Pesticides and the Green Revolution: The impact on the environment and counter- measures.
The green revolution technology phenomenon started in Mexico over sixty years ago. The technology which is still relevant today has, forever changed the way agriculture is conducted worldwide. According to Wilson (2005), green revolution technology “involved using high-yielding varieties (HYV) of seeds, pesticides and fertilizers in addition to irrigation” (para. 4). The technology was used mainly to boost the production of wheat and rice, so that developing countries could keep up with the growing demand of their rising population. The process has led to significant increase in food grain production. Burton ( 2009) documented that it took almost 10,000 years to bring food grain production up to 1 billion tons in 1960 and only 40 years to reach 2 billion in 2000. The success of the green revolution technology is greatly lauded and is still evident today. However, along with accompanying success, was tremendous increase in the use of pesticides. Wilson also reported that pesticides used in Sri Lanka increased from 59 metric tons in 1970 to 6742 metric tons in 1995. Although these pesticides used then and now are useful for killing pests (insect, weed, microbes that compete with human for food, spread disease or cause a nuisance), there were and still are many health and safety issues associated with them. Consequently, there are growing concerns among several stakeholders that while the green revolution may have proven to be a success, there has been a price to pay with regard to the unintended negative impact of pesticides and needed counter-measures. Pesticides associated with green revolution technology can lead to ill-health of farmers and water and air contamination, but there are protective measures that can be taken to mitigate these unintended effects.
One of the most worrying concerns for farmers associated with green revolution farming is probably the health risk, associated with prolonged exposure to pesticides. Wilson (2005) cited Wilson and Tisdell (2001), calls our readers’ attention to the fact that “insecticides are the most frequently used pesticides and are known to be toxic to humans, wildlife and the environment” (para.6). Toxic residue adds up over the years and can lead to long term and short term, chronic illnesses and life long complications and is even known to cause death. Furthermore, farmers who get ill from exposure to pesticides often suffer from, headaches, skin rashes, nausea, twitching of muscles, chest pains and a host of other illnesses. This has led to various stakeholders amplifying the need, for a new approach to pesticides usage. Shaebecoff (1983) highlighted the challenges of enforcing safety regulations in regards to the use and banning of pesticides, while Tillman (1998) called for the need of high-intensity agriculture with...
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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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