Modern Green Revolution Agricultural Practices in Developing World What is the Green Revolution? A term used to describe high-yielding varieties of rice and wheat that were developed in the 1960’s. Dr. Norman Borlaug is accredited for the work he and his team did in developing new seed varieties in the 1940’s and 1950’s that started the green revolution. Why it was started: The 1960’s was a decade of despair with regard to the food population balance. Awareness was brought by International organizations regarding the ensuing food crisis and what should be done. The green revolution technology was adopted to avoid catastrophic famines, revolutions and social turmoil and economic upset in parts of the world like Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Principles: The following genetic modifications were made to develop high yielding varieties of rice and wheat: -Incorporating short stature, which was the single most important architectural change -Improved responsiveness to fertilizer inputs
-Photoperiod insensitive for planting at any time of year -Reduced growth duration days led to more crops per year -Disease and insect resistance to things like stem rust, leaf rust, and stripe rust, and stem borer -Improved abiotic stresses, such as problem soils, adverse temperatures, and moisture stress -Improved cooking quality, taste preferences, and milling recovery in rice, and baking and milling characteristics in wheat Practices: In developing countries that have accepted the green revolution, traditional varieties of wheat and rice are gradually replaced by improved ones and appropriate management practices are followed. Development of irrigation facilities and systems are implemented because this is key to increasing grain production. Irrigation is used heavily in countries like China and India. Use of inorganic fertilizers is an important part of getting high yields. Labor intensive care of these agricultural operations involve sowing, harvesting, weeding. This is mostly done by hand with some implementation of mechanization in a few countries. Benefits: The past four decades have been an era of rapid productivity and production gains in agriculture. In spite of historically
unprecedented population increases and limited natural resources, the per capita food production in most developing countries has increased over these decades. Agricultural sectors in many countries has been transformed by crop genetic improvements. The impact on food security is better because of the availability of rice. A decline in the cost of production per ton of output contributed to a decline in the real price of rice and wheat, in both international and domestic markets. Literally millions of people are alive today who would otherwise have died from hunger or from diseases related to inadequate nutrition. Landless workers also benefit from a growth in income because high-yielding varieties require more labor per unit of land. This has fueled economic growth because of the need for farm and nonfarm jobs in rural trade, transport, and construction activities. The absolute number of poor people fell from 1.15 billion in 1975 to 825 million in 1995 despite a 60 percent increase in the population. Better nutrition due to raising incomes and reducing prices has permitted people to consume more calories and have a more diversified diet. The higher yields have helped save huge areas of forest and other environmentally sensitive lands. Problems: The problems include use of environmentally sensitive lands that are susceptible to erosion, semi-arid land that can suffer rapid
degradation, and tropical forests where crops can only support high yields for a few years. The loss of the best lands to urbanization, industrialization, and infrastructure improvements for roads are problems as well. The increased demand of water due to agricultural irrigation; drinking, sanitation, and industrial processes from population and economic growth has reduced the availability of water. Future: Since the 1990’s the growth rate in grain harvest has dropped off considerably. With the world population growing by 80 million people per year, and a limited amount of natural resources, there will need to be improved management of the efficiency of production inputs in developing countries. This would include utilization of fertilizers by using accurate quantities and timing of application, efficient use of water, improved seed varieties that are even more disease and insect resistance, and proper soil management. It can be seen from the past how important it will be to continue research and educate developing countries on agricultural practices. This will sustain food security, thereby enabling the economic stability of the world.
References: Peter B.R. Hazell. 2002. Green Revolution: Curse or Blessing ?. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History. R. E. Evenson. The Green Revolution in Developing Countries: An Economist’s Assessment . R. E. Evenson, D. Gollin. 2003 Assessing The Impact of The Green Revolution. Science. Pages 758-762. Gurdev S. Khush. 2001. Green Revolution: The Way Forward. Macmillan Magazines Ltd . Pages 815-821.