SEATTLE, Washington — India currently ranks fourth in the world in agricultural production and is the world’s largest producer of wheat. The country endured years of mostly preventable famines as the nation suffocated while at the hands of an oppressive British Regime. During those unprecedented times, food shortages caused death, debt and decimated farmlands that left India in severe poverty. Since the 1960s, it has worked toward focusing on self-reliance of food sufficiency and lowering its dependence on other countries. In 1965, the country embraced the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, and other progressive advancements followed. This is how technology transformed India’s agricultural sector.
The Green Revolution in Mexico
Initially, Scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug introduced the Green Revolution to Mexico in the 1940s. Dr. Borlaug’s goal was to rid the world of hunger. It focused on grain crops. His use of irrigation projects and hydration initiatives produced bountiful harvests even in non-favorable growing conditions. Modernized farm machinery such as harvesters, seed drills and threshers cultivated the land and amplified food growth conditions on limited land.
The process selectively used the largest high yielding variety (HYV) seeds and bred them for optimal production. Next, the photosynthate allocation (sugar distribution) manner maximized the plant’s food and seed segments followed by photosynthesis of the plant which directly increased the yield. As a result of these processes, the Green Revolution doubled, even tripled crop yield.
The Green Revolution in India
After India gained the county’s independence in 1947 from the British, the county’s economy was saddled with food shortages and a huge surge in population growth. A recovery process was needed. More than 70% of the county was dependent on agriculture, but India’s farmland had not been maintained properly and lacked progressive advancement while under British control.
The achievements of the Green Revolution inspired India’s government. Dr. M. S. Swaminathan then cultivated its success in India in the 1960s. Swaminathan, also known as “Father of the Green Revolution of India,” orchestrated the system and carefully followed the guidelines Dr. Boulaug developed.
In the mid-1960s, India’s Green Revolution had placed HYV seeds in the fields of poor farmers. This broke ground in Tamil Nadu and Punjab and later spread to other areas. Once underway, the revolution took fewer than five years to show plentiful HYV wheat and rice harvests. This innovative method led India to become self-sufficient in food grain in less than 25 years. Technology is transfoming India’s agricultural sector.
Not a Perfect System
Though it was largely a win-win for the economy, this development faced criticism. The overuse of fertilizers and pesticides diminished the soil’s nutritional value and destroyed important insects and wildlife organisms. In addition, poor farmers who lived in remote regions lacked adequate infrastructure to properly apply the revolution process. The Green Revolution was not perfect, but visible results were job creation, increased incomes and self-reliance.
“India today is not only self-sufficient in food grains but it is also an exporter due to his efforts. We are grateful to Swaminathan, who is the architect of India’s Green Revolution,” said Radha Morha Singh, Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Singh honored Swaminathan in 2016 as the first person to receive the first World Agricultural Prize at the 11th Global Agricultural Leadership Summit.
There are several other ways technology is transforming India’s agricultural sector. The White Revolution initiated new systems from the 1970s to the mid-1990s that helped dairy farmers produce and transport milk across various regions and led record milk production.
The Gene Revolution began in the early 2000s and changed India’s cotton landscape. Farmers used cutting-edge farm machinery to manufacture Bacillus thuringiensis cotton. As of 2020, India is the world’s number one cotton manufacturer with production topping more than 5,500 tons yearly.
Venture Capitalists and Startups have capitalized on India’s emerging farming information technology market with investments amassed more than $300 million in 2016. Companies have infused India’s market with digital-based agricultural services that are user friendly to all farmers, especially the low-income smallholders. Many underprivileged farmers benefit from these services through the use of mobile technology which saves time and money in that it eliminates the demand for in-person purchases and bank visits. Also, mobile devices allow for swift access to valuable crop data.
India survived the aftermath of several famines and an oppressive regime to become self-reliant on food grain. It is now one of the world’s top producers of wheat and cotton. Investments in innovation are how technology is transforming India’s agricultural sector. India’s policymakers are committed to the continued success of the agronomy community. The government must continue to find ways to ensure all farmers, especially the modest ones will have access to essential resources for future agricultural growth and continue to keep poverty on the decline.
– Kim L. Patterson