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Indian Agriculture in the Light of the Green Revolution

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Agriculture in India has been persistent even before the advent of the East India Company to India in the 18th century. But, only the weavers of India were famous for their fine and intricate craftmanship on cotton and silk. Little did the world know of the Indian farmers until they were made to grow Indigo forcefully on the Indian soils for world export. This, in many parts of India, like Bihar, reduced the fertility of the soil. The colonial system of zamindari, where the Indian landowners were made to collect land rents, which had been leased out by the British to Indian peasants to cultivate the desired crops of the government, irrespective of the plights suffered by the farmers, contributed to the degradation of Indian agriculture further. Furthermore, the traditional manual agrarian practices, the dependency on rain as the sole source of irrigation, lack of storage facilities, low market prices, continuous cultivation of crops which suck soil nutrients- all these unfavorable practices prevented the farmers from gaining yields proportional to their all-round-the-clock sweat shed in the fields. In 1947, the situation was no better with 51 million tons of food grain production. Wheat was the greatest yielding crop before the commencing of the Green Revolution in India, in 1949-50, wheat yielded 6.3 quintals per hectare as per the ICAR reports from the Institute of Maize Research. But, the scene of Indian agriculture changed post the Green Revolution. This research paper aims at answering how the character of Indian agriculture has changed post 1966, the problems of the Indian farmer and how Government tries to combat the same.

The Green Revolution

Norman Borlaug, a scientist, is attributed to be the beginner of the Global Green Revolution at Mexico but, the term ‘Green Revolution’ was given by William S. Gaud in 1968. The purpose was to bring advanced farming methodologies into nations like India with the aid of developed nations like US to outgrow problems of malnutrition and low productivity. This revolution is mainly remembered for the high yielding varieties of wheat, maize and rice bringing in fertilizers for nourishing soil and consolidating scattered owned land pieces.

The HYV seeds bore the quality of sensitivity to light (photosensitivity) and as they absorbed nitrogen at a quicker pace than other crops, their photo periods were relatively shorter; which meant, these would take shorter time to yield results than the naturally growing rice, maize or wheat varieties. Norin 10, a wheat variant which grew half its height, cultivated in Japan, proved a game changer in the wheat production. IR8, a blend of Indonesian and Chinese rice varieties helped combat food production problems.

The Green Revolution proved to be an efficient parent not just for enhancement of food grains around the globe but also for the ‘Gene Revolution’ involving creation of ‘Genetically Modified Organisms’, by modifying the natural genes to produce organisms which did not naturally exist.

Apart from this, the Green Revolution struck as a surprise to other parts of the world like Brazil, China and India. But the way it revolutionized the Indian agriculture is quite noteworthy.

The Green Revolution: A Divine Entry in India

Dr M. S Swaminathan is regarded as the ‘father of Indian Green Revolution’ having helped Norman Borlaug’s idea step into India in 1960s, with Punjab becoming the first Indian State to reap its benefits and become the ‘rice bowl of India’ along with UP and Haryana. This Indian form of the revolution came into being by the collaboration of Ford Foundation and Lal Bahadur Shastri led the government to import wheat due to shortage of food grains in Indian economy. It is hence remembered for the rust resistant and high yielding variants of wheat introduction, reducing dependency on rain as sole irrigator and bringing in of chemical fertilizers.

With regards to producing food grains, the experimentation of Norin 10 wheat variant was successful in India and the adoption of IR8 variant of rice in India, with reliance on the positive findings of S.K De Datta, which showed that it yielded 9,477 kg per hectare compared to 60kg per hectare produced by the tall varieties and took 130 days to mature proving lucky. Usage of machinery was quite unknown before the advent of the Green Revolution in India. Fertilizers like synthetic nitrogen fertilizer along with pesticides and insecticides have helped increase the crop yields too.

After the Green Revolution in India

The Green Revolution enhanced the food production in India and also helped solve the problem of malnutrition and food shortage in the country to a large extent. The grain production increased from 80 million tons in 1960 to 150 million tons in 1967 along with the decline in imports. In 1966-67, in an area of 5.07 million ha, there was 9.6 quintal per hectare of productivity in wheat production.

The Green Revolution: Is It ‘Progressively Green’ After All?

Though the Green Revolution enhanced the production of food grains like wheat and rice in India, the production of crops like millets have declined drastically due to lack of attention. The HYV seeds yielded more but as there was no such variant for millet, to give higher yield as the HYV varieties of wheat and rice, hence many farmers drifted to the other end. Studies reveal that Punjab will become water scarce in a few years due to excessive production of rice and wheat. Also, the HYV responded better in the North eastern states of India due to proper water supply. Also, due to inability to survive the new chemical fertilizers in use, India has lost 1 lakh varieties of rice. In the initial stages, it was seen that crops responded well to fertilizers but now a days, the resistance to fertilizers has been seen. Furthermore, the adaptation of monocropping pattern has also reduced the time span for which the ancient Indian farmer left the cultivated and reaped land vacant for replenishment of nutrients in the soil. According to Dr Swaminathan, the Bt cotton introduced in India as a continuation of the Green Revolution was not that great a success in India because it did not provide small and marginal farmers with livelihood security.

Farmer’s Unsung Problems

Farmer is considered the backbone of the economy, but unfortunately the small farmer got badly injured post the Green Revolution: did not wear protective gear while using the chemical pesticides and chemicals; small farmers were indebted under loans and had to sell their lands just so as to afford the costly green technology. The above two reasons resulted in numerous farmer deaths along with the pressure to take loans from the local moneylender at high interest rate due to lack of formal money lending institutions. According to Vandana Shiva, this fall in economic conditions of the farmers effected their social relationships as well because earlier they used to depend on neighboring villages for inputs before and now it all changed as the dependence on the government for the inputs increased.

Apart from these immediate problems of the Green Revolution, there are many other problems which an Indian farmer faces. Agriculture provides just seasonal employment due to which farmers are forced to work elsewhere off season to feed their families. There are no proper storage facilities due to which tons of food grains get destroyed without even reaching even the markets nor children for midday meals. Also, the middleman, the link between the poor farmer and the market, sells the produce procured from the farmer for a higher price and pays him the bare minimum. Also, in one of the articles, it has been clearly depicted how, by the 2000s, despite farmers from areas like Punjab producing surplus yield were forced to sell them at low MSP as food corporations refused to purchase them stating they believed in ‘quality than quantity’.

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Government’s Measures to Combat Troubles

The Ministry of Agriculture has come up with many schemes and policies to help the Indian farmer outgrow his plight like, the Agriculture Act of 1947, the various schemes under the Umbrella Scheme of the Green Revolution and the 2020 Agriculture Policy.

As of 2015, the Soil Health Card scheme enables the farmer to know the exact soil nutrition levels of the soil on which he cultivates and use the fertilizers in appropriate levels to maintain soil fertility.

In order to promote organic farming, Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana was brought into force in 2007 as an additional support from the Centre to state to form agricultural plans. Under this scheme, farmers with land holding of 5o acres will be motivated to come together and do organic farming in cluster. Schemes like the National Saffron Mission was started in 2010 to enhance the area under production of saffron in Kashmir. The Accelerated Fodder Development Program and the National Mission for protein supplements were initiated as well under the same.

Also, the PMKSY (Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichai Yojana) helps reduce farmer’s dependency on rainfall by granting proper irrigation. The National Agriculture Market, introduced in 2015, helped open up a digital platform for the farmer’s produce to reach the needed.

The Second Green Revolution

For a span of 3 years from 2017-2020, Krishiunati Scheme was introduced as an umbrella over 11 schemes and is popularly known as the ‘Second Green Revolution’.

  • The Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture was started in 2oo6 under which the National Horticulture scheme (2014) and the National Bamboo Mission were started gradually. NHM is exclusive of medicinal and coconut plant produce along with the North Eastern States. The primary aim is to promote growth of fruits, vegetables, tubers, cocoa and others.
  • The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture aims at sustainable agricultural practices for integrated farming.
  • The Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Marketing seeks to enhance the quality of agricultural infrastructure and also quality check the produce.
  • The National Food Security Mission was initially started in 2007 but later inclusive of NMOOP (National Mission on Oil Seeds and Oil Palm) was continued till 2017 with an aim to promote accelerated production and food security of rice, wheat, pulses and commercial crops.
  • The Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Census and Economic Statistics (ISACE) aims at conducting productive agricultural research, analyze agricultural problems of the day and also financially assist conducting workshops for experts. There were 3 submissions pertaining to Plant protection and Quarantine (SMPPQ), agricultural mechanization (SMAM) with seeds and planting material (SMSP) aiming at making crops pest cum disease resistant, producing high quality seeds and agricultural mechanization.
  • The Integrated Scheme on Agricultural Corporation (ISAC) aims at helping fetch remuneration for the cotton sold by the farmers and also enhance the economic conditions of those cooperatives actively involved in agriculture.

National e-governance planning was to mainly make agriculture related information and extension available to majority of the farmers.

The ‘Second Green Revolution’ aiming at sustainable, economically viable and eco-friendly agricultural practices in 2016 turned low, with the central government introducing the New Agricultural Policy in 2020, Indian farmers felt this went contrary to the need of the hour.

The New Agricultural Policy

The New Agricultural Policy is a blend of 3 Farming Bills.

  • The Farmer’s Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill 2020 is to enable the reach of the farmer’s produce beyond the APMC yard and prevents the government from imposing charges for the same. This allows the farmer to sell at aggregations of farmers’ produce, warehouses and production places. As online portals have become quite prevalent these days, the bill also allows the farmer to sell his APMC registered produce online and also transact through the electronic means.
  • The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Ordinance, 2020 enables the farmer to directly get into an agreement with the customer and sell his produce without the interference of a middleman. Apart from this, it will bring about the concept of contract farming where the agreement is to last for at least one growing season or livestock production and may go beyond 5 years along with the terms of pricing and the basis. For such fixation of price. In case of variation in pricing or paying of an additional amount to the farmer, the agreement must keep the farmer updated about the same. If dispute among such contracted parties arises, it will be dealt by the Board and then, if not still resolved, it will be handled by the Sub-Magistrate. The peculiarity of such proceedings is, the party may be asked to pay compensation for the breach of damages but the farmer cannot be asked to pay the previous dues.
  • The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, enables the government to decide what goods shall fall under the essential commodities list and accordingly regulate the supply of such goods, pulses and cereals in the economy during undesirable situations like war and famine.

Current Scenario: A Boon or a Bane

With respect to the 2nd and 3rd Bills of the New Agricultural Policy, the farmers weren’t too satisfied which led to protests as they felt that these policies would only place them under the corporate companies for exploitation. Though there have been many rounds of negotiations, ultimately the Ministry of Agriculture refused to repeal the Bills in 2021, much to the farmer’s dismay.

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has hit the small farmers of India due to shortage of helping hands and machinery caused by the lockdown. Though India had buffer stock of food 3 times the production, the supply chains were disrupted due to lack of transportation facilities. Furthermore, many farmers were forced to leave their crops unattended and the harvest of the bumper crops for delayed by months. The season of Rabi got disrupted due to the initial lockdown and Kharif season’s high hopes for the farmer were shattered due to the worsening situation and lack of demand. But Yatra International and ITC have helped the farmer reach out to customers.


The Green Revolution has indeed brought along profits and losses. But the visibility is that India is today the largest producer of wheat in the world and the second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Also, the initiative taken up to help the Indian cotton farmers if implemented properly will surely help him walk in par with the rice and wheat producers of the country. As per the Ministry of Agriculture’s estimations, wheat production of India is likely to increase to 108.75 million tons and course cereals will increase to 49.66 million tons in 2021. Almost 22,000 new mandis will be linked by 2020-21. As per these reports, it can be said that the Indian farmer despite his troubles is sure to see bright days in future. Also, government’s sincere aid to help combat the current crisis will surely help the farmers regain their footing.

In conclusion, the government must ensure the sustainable growth of the agricultural sector so that it can contribute more to the GDP of India because farmer is the backbone of the country. And needless to say, if the backbone collapses, the entire economy will also collapse.


  1. ‘India – ICAR-Indian Institute Of Maize Research’. 2021. Iimr.Icar.Gov.In. Accessed July 14.
  2. Team, Virginia Tech. 2021. ‘Revisiting The Impacts Of The Green Revolution In India’. Ipg.Vt.Edu. Accessed July 14. http://ipg.vt.eduDirectorsCornerre–reflections-and-explorationsReflections101520.html
  3. Insight, Team. 2018. ‘Agriculture: Second Green Revolution And, Government Schemes And Missions – INSIGHTSIAS’. INSIGHTSIAS. https://www.insightsonindia.com20141201agriculture-second-green-revolution-government-schemes-missions.
  4. De Datta, S. K., A. C. Tauro, and S. N. Balaoing. 1968. ‘Effect Of Plant Type And Nitrogen Level On The Growth Characteristics And Grain Yield Of Indica Rice In The Tropics’. Web.Archive.Org. https://web.archive.orgweb20081202142838http:agron.scijournals.orgcgicontentabstract606643.
  5. ‘A Critical Review Of The Green Revolution In India – Geography And You’. 2018. Geographyandyou.Com. https://geographyandyou.coma-critical-review-of-the-green-revolution-in-india.
  6. ‘India – ICAR-Indian Institute Of Maize Research’. 2021. Iimr.Icar.Gov.In. Accessed July 14.
  7. Counterview, Team. 2018. ‘Green Revolution ‘Not Sustainable’, Bt Cotton A Failure In India: MS Swaminathan’. Counterview.Net. https://www.counterview.net201812green-revolution-not-sustainable-bt.html#:~:text=In a recent paper in the journal “Current,security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
  8. ‘India’s Foodgrain Output To Rise 2.66% To Record 305.43 MT In 2020-21, Says Government’. 2021. The Economic Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.comnewseconomyagricultureindias-foodgrain-output-to-rise-2-66-to-record-305-43-mt-in-2020-21-says-governmentarticleshow82943988.cms.

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Indian Agriculture in the Light of the Green Revolution. (2022, October 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 1, 2023, from
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