Green Revolution

2024 FEB 11

Mains   > Agriculture   >   Crops   >   Agri-revolutions


GS 3    >     Economic Development   > Agriculture


  • Late Dr. Swaminathan will be honored with Bharat Ratna for playing a pivotal role in helping India achieve self-reliance in agriculture.


  • He is credited as the architect of the Green Revolution.
  • Swaminathan's collaborative scientific efforts with Norman Borlaug and other scientists and backed by public policies, saved India and Pakistan from certain famine-like conditions in the 1960s.
  • His leadership as director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines was instrumental in his being awarded the first World Food Prize in 1987.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme has called him ‘the Father of Economic Ecology’.
  • He coined the term ‘Evergreen Revolution’ in 1990 to describe his vision of ‘productivity in perpetuity without associated ecological harm’.
  • It was the Swaminathan Committee that recommended in 2006 that the MSP should be 1.5 times the cost of production that a farmer incurs.


  • During the mid-1960s, India was grappling with a severe food crisis due to frequent droughts.
  • This period was marked by a critical food shortage, and India had to rely on imports, primarily from the United States under the P.L.480 scheme, to meet its food requirements. However, India was struggling to pay for these imports because of a lack of foreign exchange.
  • The situation was so dire that Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri made an appeal to the nation, urging people to voluntarily skip a meal once a week to conserve food resources. Additionally, the government took steps to restrict the consumption of wheat-based products, such as wheat chapatis, at wedding ceremonies to conserve wheat.
  • In this challenging context, M S Swaminathan collaborated with Norman Borlaug, another renowned scientist, to introduce a series of innovations in agriculture. These innovations included the development of high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice, along with improved farming practices. Together, these advancements constituted the Green Revolution in India.


  • Rapid Population Growth: India's population was growing quickly, putting immense pressure on the country's ability to feed its people. The existing agricultural practices and technologies were insufficient to meet the increasing food demands of the growing population.
  • Low Agricultural Productivity: Traditional farming methods in India had relatively low crop yields. The need for increased agricultural productivity was crucial to sustain the rising population and prevent food shortages.
  • Frequent Droughts: India experienced recurrent droughts, which severely affected crop production. Droughts are natural disasters that can lead to crop failures and food scarcity, making it essential to develop drought-resistant crop varieties.
  • Dependence on Food Imports: India's dependence on food imports, particularly from the United States through the P.L.480 scheme, left the country vulnerable to external pressures and political interference. This dependence posed risks to national food security and sovereignty.
  • Food Aid Diplomacy: The United States and other food-exporting countries often used food aid as a diplomatic tool. India's reliance on food imports made it susceptible to external political influences, which it sought to reduce by achieving self-sufficiency in food production.
  • Self-Reliance and Food Security: India aimed to become self-reliant in food production to ensure its food security. Achieving self-sufficiency meant that India could feed its population without relying heavily on foreign imports, enhancing its resilience to external economic and political fluctuations.
  • Poverty and Malnutrition Reduction: The Green Revolution was seen as a means to alleviate poverty and reduce malnutrition by increasing agricultural income and making food more accessible to all segments of the population.
  • Modernization of Agriculture: India's agriculture sector was in need of modernization. The Green Revolution introduced new technologies, improved crop varieties, and better farming practices, making agriculture more efficient, profitable, and competitive in the global market.


  • High-Yield Variety (HYV) Seeds: These seeds, developed by agricultural scientists like M. S. Swaminathan, were a cornerstone of the Green Revolution in India, significantly increasing food production.
  • Irrigation Methods: Various irrigation techniques, including tube wells, canals, dams, and sprinklers, were adopted to reduce reliance on rainfall and ensure consistent water supply for crops.
  • Mechanization: Major agricultural tasks such as ploughing, sowing, harvesting, and threshing were mechanized using tractors, harvesters, and drills, leading to reduced labour costs and increased efficiency.
  • Chemical Inputs: Chemical fertilizers and pesticides were used to enhance soil fertility and protect crops from pests and diseases.
  • Double Cropping: The practice of growing two crops in the same field within one year, known as double cropping, was promoted to intensify cropping and increase yields.
  • Expanding Cultivation: The Green Revolution expanded farming areas by bringing more land under cultivation, especially in semi-arid and arid regions, using irrigation and HYV seeds.


  • Enhanced Food Production: The Green Revolution brought about a remarkable increase in agricultural productivity. It introduced new high-yielding crop varieties like dwarf wheat and rice, which produced significantly more crops per hectare of land. This was crucial in meeting the ever-growing global demand for food
  • Self-sufficiency (Lower food imports): As a direct consequence of the Green Revolution's success, India transitioned from being a net importer of food grains to becoming a net exporter. It started exporting wheat, rice, and other food grains, with imports becoming negligible.
  • Poverty Alleviation: One of the significant impacts of the Green Revolution was the increase in agricultural income for farmers. This higher income helped lift many small-scale farmers out of poverty by improving their crop yields and income levels
  • Technological Advancements: The Green Revolution introduced farmers to modern agricultural technologies, including advanced seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. These technological advancements continue to benefit agriculture by promoting sustainable practices and enhancing efficiency. Improved seeds have diversified crop genetics, making them more resilient to pests, diseases, and climate changes. Mechanized farm tools like tractors, harvesters, and irrigation systems have reduced labour costs and increased productivity.
  • Promotion of Rural Development: Increased agricultural productivity can trigger rural development. When farmers earn more income, they can invest in their communities. This leads to improved infrastructure, education, and healthcare in rural areas. For example, in India, the Green Revolution prompted the expansion of rural roads, electrification, irrigation systems, and communication networks, enhancing accessibility and connectivity in rural regions.
  • Curbing land conversion: By boosting crop yields, the Green Revolution reduced the necessity to convert forests and natural habitats into agricultural land. This has had positive environmental effects by preserving biodiversity and curbing deforestation.
  • Driving economic growth: The Green Revolution's higher agricultural productivity has been linked to overall economic growth in many countries. Agriculture plays a pivotal role in economic development, and increased crop yields can stimulate economic progress.


  • Environmental Concerns: The intensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides had negative environmental impacts, including soil degradation, water pollution, and harm to non-target species. Overuse of water resources for irrigation in some areas led to groundwater depletion and salinity problems.
  • Income Inequality: The benefits of the Green Revolution were not distributed evenly. Large landowners and wealthier farmers often gained more than small-scale farmers, exacerbating income inequality in rural areas.
  • High Production Costs: The cost of purchasing high-yielding seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides could be prohibitive for resource-poor farmers, leading to debt and financial strain. Ex: Fertilizer usage is 223kg/ha in Punjab.
  • Dependency on External Inputs: Farmers became dependent on purchased inputs like seeds and chemicals, making them vulnerable to price fluctuations and market dynamics.
  • Monoculture and Biodiversity Loss: Emphasis on a few high-yielding crop varieties led to the cultivation of monocultures, which can reduce biodiversity and make crops more susceptible to pests and diseases.
  • Sustainability Concerns: The focus on maximizing short-term yields sometimes ignored the long-term sustainability of farming practices, leading to soil erosion and degradation.
  • Social Disruption: The Green Revolution brought about significant changes in farming practices, which could disrupt traditional rural societies and lead to social tensions.
  • Health Risks: The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers raised health concerns like cancer renal failure etc. due to potential exposure to harmful chemicals.
  • Water Management Issues: The expansion of irrigation systems sometimes led to conflicts over water resources, especially in regions with limited water availability.
  • Genetic Uniformity: Overreliance on a few high-yielding crop varieties can result in genetic uniformity, making crops vulnerable to new pests or changing environmental conditions.
  • Market Access: Small-scale farmers often faced challenges in accessing markets and getting fair prices for their produce, hindering their ability to benefit fully from the Green Revolution.


  • Green Revolution 2.0, also known as the Second Green Revolution, is a concept that refers to the next phase of agricultural development and transformation following the original Green Revolution. It seeks to address some of the deficiencies and limitations of the first Green Revolution (Green Revolution 1.0) while building on its successes.

Here's how Green Revolution 2.0 can address the shortcomings of its predecessor:

  • Sustainable Agriculture Practices: Green Revolution 2.0 emphasizes sustainability by promoting eco-friendly farming practices. It focuses on reducing the environmental impact of agriculture, including minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, conserving water resources, and adopting organic farming methods.
  • Diversification of Crops: While Green Revolution 1.0 primarily focused on increasing the yields of wheat and rice, Green Revolution 2.0 encourages crop diversification. This means promoting the cultivation of a variety of crops with a special focus on millet to enhance food security and reduce the risk of pest and disease outbreaks.
  • Precision Agriculture: Precision agriculture technologies, such as GPS-guided equipment, remote sensing, and data analytics, play a significant role in Green Revolution 2.0. These technologies enable farmers to make data-driven decisions, optimize resource use, and increase efficiency.
  • Smallholder Farmer Inclusion: Green Revolution 2.0 places a greater emphasis on ensuring that the benefits of agricultural innovations reach smallholder farmers who make up a significant portion of the farming population. It aims to reduce income inequality and improve the livelihoods of these farmers.
  • Climate Resilience: Climate change poses new challenges to agriculture. Green Revolution 2.0 seeks to develop crop varieties that are more resilient to changing climate conditions, such as drought-resistant crops, flood-tolerant varieties, and those adapted to higher temperatures.
  • Digital Agriculture: Leveraging digital technologies, Green Revolution 2.0 promotes the use of mobile apps, online platforms, and data analytics to provide farmers with information on weather forecasts, market prices, and best agricultural practices.
  • Reduced Post-Harvest Losses: Efforts are made in Green Revolution 2.0 to improve post-harvest storage and transportation systems to reduce the significant losses that occur after crops are harvested.
  • Value Addition and Market Access: Green Revolution 2.0 encourages farmers to add value to their produce by processing it into higher-value products. It also focuses on improving market access for farmers, enabling them to get fair prices for their crops.

Thus, a more holistic and sustainable approach to agricultural development that recognizes the need to address environmental concerns, promote inclusivity, adapt to climate change, harness digital technologies, and ensure long-term food security is the need of the hour. By building on the successes and learning from the limitations of Green Revolution 1.0, India should aim to create a resilient and equitable agricultural system.


Q: Despite having several achievements, the Green Revolution has several defects. In light of this, discuss the need for Green Revolution 2.0. (10M, 150W)