The Green Revolution is a time of great change in the agricultural world, which began with the Second World War and continued until the end of the Cold War. It was characterized by a proliferation of organic vegetables and fruits, freshwater access, climate change, improved farming practices, and land reform to name a few factors.
A lot of people believe that it was in Mexico where improved technology and germplasm led to the first start in the 1940s. The Green Revolution technologies spread globally in the 1950s and 1960s, significantly increasing the yield produced per acre of agriculture. This was due to a number of reasons: 1) the new technologies helped farmers overcome difficulties caused by weather patterns, 2) food production became increasingly important in many countries, 3) world trade increased as a result of an increase in agricultural products, and 4) technology made available for other activities such as industrialization.
What is Green Revolution?
Definition: “A green revolution was a period of agricultural development in which the yield of a crop was increased through the use of high-yielding varieties of wheat, rice, maize, and millet, as well as the use of intensive fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and machinery.”
The GR was a time of great technological development when farmers started producing more food than they used to. It often means more vegetables, meat, and fruits for less money. These include less water, more fruit, and no herbicides or pesticides in the food. It was a time when cereals became the most popular food in the world, as they were able to provide people with everything they needed without any other type of food being used for both hungry and comfortable. This basically involved the development of new varieties of crops that were able to double the yield of cereal crops like wheat and rice.
History and Development of the Green Revolution
Despite land scarcity and increasing land values, the developing world has seen an unprecedented period of food crop productivity growth over the last half-century. Moreover, the world’s first “green” crop reports were published in 50 countries during the early 2000s. The crops were developed and grown using organic methods with assistance from environmentalists. This period of productivity growth was helped by: increased access to fertilizer, improved technology, better peasants’ and awarenesses about food chain health.
Shift From Traditional Farming Practices
It was for the first time, cereal crops across the globe were grown on 30% more land than before. It was because the demand for food led to an enlargement of the land area. The shift from traditional farming practices to the GR was a major reason for the increase in the yields and quality of crop products.
Some researchers assume that the world’s first Green Revolution was executed in the early 1990s when China began to change its agricultural way of life into a more industrial one. The goal of the GR was to reformulate food pictures so that it would be easier for people to eat and produce less salt, which in turn would help the environment by reducing farming yields. The second green Revolution was executed from 2001 to 2003 when India started to change its agricultural ways into a more feudal one; this led to an increase in prices for basic goods and services.
The beginnings of the Green Revolution are often attributed to Norman Borlaug, an American scientist interested in agriculture. In the 1940s, he began conducting research in Mexico and developed new disease resistance high-yield varieties of wheat.
The term “Green Revolution” was coined by William S. Gaud of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in 1968 to describe this new trend. The primary goal of the United States Agricultural Department was to improve the yield of food crops by substitution with other plant-based sources.
Between 1940 and 1960, the department increased the production and yield of food crops by substituting other plant-based sources. The increase in product output was due to improved technology and policy. Meanwhile, in the 1940s and 1950s, it was often the case that countries such as Cuba, Greece, and Italy were struggling to produce enough food for their nation.
However, some regions like sub-Saharan Africa are still the most difficult part of the world to live in, because of the rich and active human population there. The region’s GDP has been increasing rapidly in recent years, but many people therein continue to face serious food deficits. In contrast, much of the developing world is still struggling with traditional food diets high in calories and pounds. Some parts of this continent are more conducive to economic development than others. Therefore, it is still believed that Sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind the world in terms of the green revolution.
Read More: Scottish Agricultural Revolution
Development of High-Yielding Varieties
In order to increase the yield, various measures were taken to introduce new strains of plants. The GR is often considered one of the most effective agricultural interventions in history. In this context, it is important to note that certain high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of wheat and rice were initially introduced as part of the GR in an attempt to increase the yield of crops.
These new varieties of rice and wheat were developed by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Mexico, and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Philippines. These variants are intended to meet the needs of people in developing countries who are trying to switch from traditional rice or wheat to these genetically improved varieties.
During the early 1960s, Mexico was producing more wheat than it could consume, so it was forced to export more of the food it was producing. Meanwhile, a new method was developed called “mechanization,” which allowed the agricultural society of Mexico to produce more of the food by combining Borlaug’s wheat varieties. This led to an increase in the production of wheat than was needed by its own people and helped reduce poverty in Mexico.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mexico began to experience a GR due to the successful use of technologies that became world-class in the post-World War II world. Meanwhile, the United States became the first nation to use GR technologies in the 1940s, which were developed by a team of researchers at the University of Utah. Later, in the 1950s, the Green Revolution was a time when America started to become increasingly self-sufficient in food production, starting from cereals to meat and cheese. By the 1960s, it had become an exporter.
The GR was a time when countries such as China, India, and Indonesia were researching new ways to produce food while maintaining prices low enough to be affordable for all. At the same time, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, and many other government agencies funded increased research to continue using GR technologies in order to feed a growing population.
Similar governmental and private funding led Mexico to establish a research institution in 1943, renamed in 1963, called the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT). The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center is a center that aims to bring science and technology together to help farmers grow crops more efficiently and profitably. The CIMMYT also helps countries make the switch from forced labor to agricultural workers who are able to work without exploitation. It looks at ways to improve land management, increase crop yields, and reduce inputs used in farming.
The Green Revolution was a golden age of agricultural development in the world and specifically in India. It started with the Borlaug work by which he used a different type of farming practice to produce food for millions of people. The era is remembered for the mass famine in India during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Later, the GR helped India to prevent and overcome mass famine in India during the 1960s. As result, it was an important period in Indian history and the country experienced a significant change in its political, social, and economic structure.
The Borlaug and the Ford Foundation research was important in developing IR8, a new variety of rice. It allowed for the development of a new variety of rice that produced more grain per plant when grown with irrigation and fertilizers. This type of rice is different from other types of rice because it does not contain any pollutants, which are known to produce negative effects on crops. The discovery also led to the development of an industry and the production of this kind of food. Following the development of IR8 rice in India, today India is one of the largest rice producers in the world.
A green-related development, the GR is also often cited as a model of governance for developing countries. It started with the implementation of the United National Park in China in 1966 and continued with the creation of the world’s first “Green” Valley, descriptions of which appeared in both newspapers and on popular culture.
Plant Technologies of the Green Revolution
The Green Revolution was a time of dramatic change in the agricultural world, with advances in technology and the introduction of new strains of plants that were specifically designed to respond to fertilizers. The goals of the government and broadcasters were to promote this new technology as an alternative to traditional farming methods which had been used for centuries. Later, the GR led to an increase in food production and a decrease in hunger around the world.
The terms often used with these plants that make them successful are harvest index, photosynthate allocation, and insensitivity to day length. The harvest index refers to the above-ground weight of the plant.
During the GR, the selection was made to produce the most crop. By choosing to select large-seeded plants, they were able to reduce the amount of pollen needed and increase yields by up to 50%. The larger seeds hypothesis suggests that large seeds evolved to increase the grain yield of plants and above-ground weight. This is important in order to make sure that the plant can provide an adequate source of nutrition for its inhabitants. The more seed life and size a plant has, the more able it is to reproduce and store nutrients for future year’s crops. In addition, increased seed life and size allow farmers to expend more energy during the growing season and result in greater crop yields.
In turn, this larger weight above ground led to an increased photosynthetic allocation. It has been shown that plants became more efficient in using photosynthesis when the seed, or food portion, of the plant, is maximized. During this process, the energy produced by the plant goes directly to the food portion of the plant.
Researchers like Borlaug were able to double a crop’s production by selectively breeding plants that weren’t sensitive to day length since the plants didn’t have to be confined to certain parts of the world based solely on where they could receive light.
This was possible because they were able to change their genome in order to be tolerant of different parts of the globe. Just as importantly, the new crops would no longer be responsive to specific times of day or night. This was especially true when it came time to produce food for humans or animals, as seen in photosynthesis where water and energy are used to create organic molecules.
With it, an increase in investment in research and development, as well as appropriate policy support took place during the first Green Revolution. For example, from 1995 to 2000, the number of people living with hunger decreased by about 20 percent; this was done through aggressive marketing and artificial intelligence strategies. The result was significant decreases in malnutrition and other food-related diseases.
As a result of hard work, the developed world has seen the desired results. In spite of being small changes, large public investment in crop genetic improvement plays a central role in our so-called society. This has been done for the major staple crops, wheat, rice, and maize. This adaptation was made for the changing conditions in developing countries as those areas undergo dramatic changes.
A Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was established based on the successes of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. This initiative was designed to provide technological spillovers to countries that underinvest in agricultural research, as they have limited access to the benefits of these investments.
In recent years, the private sector has become increasingly excited about the potential of CGIAR-generated products and knowledge to help society as a whole. In particular, technology adaptation and dissemination services have become an important part of the public sector. These services include fill-in/directing applications, data interpretation, and customer service.
It is generally said that the post-GR period was a time of increased stress for farming. After all, agriculture has been booming since the late 1800s. However, in the early 2000s, there was an overall decrease in investment into farming as a whole. This was due to a variety of factors, including the global economy and changes in regulatory boundaries.
Impacts of the Green Revolution
A major reason why the GR was possible was fertilizers since without fertilizers high-yield varieties could not flourish. In addition, irrigation was another key element of the Green Revolution, by which various crops could be grown over a wider area. Using irrigation, for example, allows water to be stored and distributed to drier areas, increasing agricultural land for crop production. Before the GR, agricultural production was largely confined to areas that received a significant amount of rainfall.
In the meantime, the bad impact of GR was that fewer varieties of rice were available for cultivation because of the shift to high-yield varieties.
A typical example is that in India there were 30,000 varieties of rice before the Green Revolution, but today there are just ten, all of them highly productive. Due to this increased homogeneity, there were fewer varieties available to combat diseases and pests. As a result, pesticide use grew as well, to protect these few varieties.
Apart from that, the GR was a very time-consuming and high-pressure program that began to increase food production after the 5% goal had been reached. GR was intended to increase food production by introducing IR8 rice into the diet of developed countries, which ultimately did have some impact.
Diffusion and Impact of Crop Genetic Improvements
Crop germplasm improvements in CGIAR centers were transferred to national agricultural programs so that they could be adapted and disseminated, which helped reduce poverty and lower food prices. This productivity gain was achieved through the application of technical advances in germplasm improvement. The aim was to improve the quality and quantity of germplasm from crops, including wheat, rice, maize, and sorghum. This resulted in an estimate of 1.0% per annum for wheat (across all regions), 0.8% for rice, 0.7% for maize, and 0.5% and 0.6% for sorghum and millets, respectively.
The adoption of modern varieties of crops in developing countries has rapidly increased in the past decade. In 1998, 63% of cropland was devoted to adoption, up from 35% in 1995. The increase was linked to a wave of food production that led to increased demand for adopted species. The adoption of modern varieties of crops in developing countries was a result of the high numbers of people who face drought, famine, or other food-related threats. In some cases, hunger and poverty were a daily reality for millions of people. Meanwhile, modern variety farming was able to grow a large variety of crops throughout, but only if the grower prepared for every possible input, such as fertilizer, water sources, labor rates, and weather conditions.
In spite of this, global aggregates mask great geographic disparities. According to estimates from 1998, 82% of the area planted with modern varieties was in Asian countries. In contrast, only 27% of the total area planted with improved varieties was in African countries. The first CIMMYT maize program focused on Africa only began in the late 1980s. Although the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture research for cassava started in 1967, its impact was felt only since the 1980s.
The second CIMMYT maize program, which began in 1992, involved the effortless mobilization of rural people from across the continent. These programs were conducted with the goal of benefiting countries in crisis due to over-pumping or climate change. Africa has made positive progress in the post-GR period, despite lagging behind during the GR. By 2005, 73% of wheat, 45% of maize, 26% of rice, 19% of cassava, and 15% of sorghum improved varieties were adopted across sub-Saharan Africa.
However, in 2009, international co-operation began between private foundations and public organizations to help people plant improved plants in Africa. This will allow the world to get the most out of its resources and will also bring investors from all over the globe into the industry. A recent report from the World Bank estimated that Africa has the potential to grow by up to 7% in each of the next five years, thanks to progress in rice, maize, and wheat. In 2003-4, for example, Africa’s GDP was low than expected; it is expected to reach a significantly stable position by 2022.
Impact on Productivity
The GR is often used to describe the impressive increase in agricultural yields per hectare, which is due to the use of extensive fertilizers, higher-yield crops, and increased access to inputs such as water. From 1960 to 2000, wheat yields rose 208%, rice yields 109%, maize yields 157%, potatoes 78%, and cassava yielded 36% for all developing countries.
The studies reported that the various types of crops can improve their performance when growing in different parts of the world. For example, In Southeast Asia, India and China were more successful at increasing rice yields after they added these plants to the diet. This was true for wheat and maize as well, which was successful in improving when grown in warm climates. In fact, some countries such as China and India are now maintaining food groups that include only GR variety rice because they find it difficult to hold out against better-tasting forms of rice.
The study found that the rate of change in TFP is generally similar to the change in yield per hectare. It also found that there is a relationship between total fertility and Y/H. The study found that the rate of growth in agricultural TFP is similar to the speed at which parts of the world were progressing with regard to food production. Between 1970 and 1989, the worldwide TFP for agriculture changed by 0.87%, and from 1990 to 2006 it nearly doubled to 1.56%.
Initially, the crop genetic improvement was focused on the production of high-yielding varieties that were productive and uniform. However, with the rise in demand for HYVs since the 1990s, these goals have become more ambitious. In fact, profits from crop genetic improvement (CHG) sales have increased exponentially. In the meantime, studies have also shown that the decrease in maturity time has also played an important role in the improvement of many crops, allowing for a higher cropping intensity.
From the beginning of this decade through the end of 2006, farmer surveys showed that the rice-wheat system had grown faster than expected in the Indo-Gangetic plains. It was all attributed to the shortening of the crop growing period. Due to the shortening of the crop growing period, it became possible for years to cultivate crops on slopes near water bodies.
Apart from this, all of the other GR interventions like irrigation infrastructure, the use of fertilizer, etc. were also crucial to maintaining consistency in the field. It included all of the essential inputs at every stage of the process, from beginning to end. The purpose of this was to ensure that the food grown and prepared on the plate was of equal quality.
During the GR and post-GR period, Asia continued investing heavily in irrigation infrastructure. The Asia-Pacific region was one of the most important global markets for irrigation infrastructure during the late 1990s and 2000s. This was due to the regions’ two major sources of water – groundwater and riverine. Both factors were increasingly difficult to access and both could not be managed without proper irrigation infrastructure. The post-GR period saw an increased focus on strategic planning, which included the development of India’s overall water supply system including both formal and informal hydrology patterns. The main objective of the investment was to improve crop yields and reduce inputs costs. The result was an increase in agricultural production of 6.5% and 5%. As a result of this increase in agricultural production, real food prices fell significantly.
All of this was due to the CGIAR and the national crop germplasm improvement program which helped to increase food supplies in developing countries by 12-13%. It is estimated that if this was not the case, the overall food production would have been lower than 20%. Due to this, food and feed prices would have been 35–65% higher, causing the availability of calories to decrease by 11–13%.
Limitations of GR-Led Growth Strategies
The GR is a significant cause of widespread poverty reduction in the world by averting hunger for millions of people, and it helped to avoid the conversion of thousands of hectares of land into agricultural cultivation. In fact, the term “green revolution” is often used to specifically describe this entire process. In addition, it also helped prevent famine by using these measures.
The program was meant to change the way people ate by making them eat more rice, livestock, and meat instead of fruits, vegetables, and bread. However, this did not work out too well; people worldwide started getting sick because they could not fit everything he/she ate into their stomachs. Thus, the GR did not only bring about a food transformation but also resulted in negative outcomes.
Poverty and Food Insecurity
The study found that there is a significant relationship between agriculture productivity growth and poverty. This relationship comes from the fact that when agricultural productivity grows, as it does in countries with poor social policy, poverty decreases. The relationship between agricultural productivity and poverty is often misunderstood. It’s not about how much productivity one country has, it’s about how much production they’re able to provide to everyone in the world. When countries have more productive societies, they can provide more food and shelter for all their citizens.
Thus, it was of utmost importance when the GR took place that it be adapted globally so that every country can contribute to food security. In Asia, it is typically thought that each 1% increase in crop productivity reduces the number of poor people by 0.48%. The trend has been particularly strong in East Asia, where the poverty rate increases significantly while the population changes little. Therefore, in order to make a real impact on reducing poverty and its effects on society, an all-encompassing change must have been adapted globally to produce enough food for everyone.
Agricultural growth was critical to low-income countries in general because it was the main form of economic development. The percentage of the population who became poverty-free has increased significantly from the early 2000s when it was about 20%, to its current level of about 50%, which is currently 9.2%. It has been estimated that in sub-Saharan Africa, agriculture contributes 4.25 times more to poverty reduction than non-agricultural sectors. This rise in the percentage free from poverty can be traced to two factors: first, the increasing knowledge and interest in health care; and second, because of technological advancements in agricultural practices to produce sufficient food.
However, in marginal production areas, the effect of GR strategies on poverty reduction was relatively lower since the strategy was focused on intensifying favorable areas. Based on the study, it was found that areas with marginal production, like South Asia, were poorer as well as had a higher incidence of poverty than average regions. In the end, this all happened because of the weak policies which were ultimately detrimental to the regions.
Access To Nutritious Diets
Almost all countries have a population of undernourished workers. Between 1960 and 1990, the prevalence of undernutrition declined significantly. Due to lower prices and better availability of staple foods, poor people have been able to consume more energy and protein. This change has helped to reduce poverty and help to realize social goals such as drinking water, a right for all people. The World Health Organization predicts that hunger will become a problem worldwide by 2030.
Nutrient intake in households increased due to the GR. It was only during the GR period that the nutrient intake rates for consumers who were producers began to decline while those who were net users of the food production system continued to rise. This suggests that GR-driven changes in nutritional outcomes led to positive changes in real incomes, which in turn had a positive impact on people’s nutritional profiles. However, it is important to note that these findings should be considered small studies with limited power which could not model an entire market.
The study found that the spread of HYVs in South India’s rural areas was one of the key drivers of increased rice production. They also found that energy and protein consumption were both increased by HYVs usage. For example, Bangladesh’s steady decline in rice prices from 1992 to 2000 resulted in better nutrition for children and higher spending on non-rice food. While overall calorie consumption rose under the GR, dietary diversity for many poor people decreased, and micronutrient malnutrition persisted.
The traditional crops were important for their critical micronutrients (such as iron, vitamin A, and zinc), but they were no longer the main sources of these nutrients. A number of technological advances have been made in the last few decades that allow us to provide a more nutritious diet or add certain fruits and vegetables that form part of a healthy eating plan. However, the primary benefit of staples is that they provide a regular source of income, without having to worry about the amount of food that is produced. For example, monoculture rice systems in the Philippines.
Studies indicate that the consumption of cereal has decreased in urban and rural Asia in recent years, while consumption of milk, meat, vegetables, and fruits has increased. The average dietary protein and fat intake increased across all income groups between 1975 and 1995, suggesting that consumers of all income levels have benefited from the improved dietary quality. In spite of the fact that micronutrient deficiencies persist in the poor, it is not yet clear if the move to plant-based diets has compensated for the decline of vitamin intake from cereal-dominated diets.
Environmental Conditions And Marginal Production Regions
The intensification of agriculture leads to the promotion of food, 54% more than necessary, leading to depleting resources and creating a trade-off between food production and other economic activities. Furthermore, the intensification program also allowed the release of marginal lands into providing alternative ecosystem services, such as the regeneration of forest cover. In many cases, the productivity gains were largely due to HYVs being more responsive to external inputs. However, an appropriate research and policy environment, incentivizing the use of inputs judiciously, was lacking in many cases.
It is a well-known fact that agricultural policies have had serious environmental consequences beyond the areas cultivated due to unintended consequences in water use, soil degradation, and chemical runoff. As a result of the above degradation of the agricultural resources, farm yields have slowed down since the mid-1980s. Therefore, sustainability and replication of the GR’s success are viewed as risks because of these environmental costs.
GR was originally intended to expand in areas that yielded high returns, primarily irrigated or high rainfall areas. Therefore, International breeding programs were intended to develop broadly adaptable germplasm that could be adapted to many geographic areas, but adoption was most notable in areas with favorable environments. During the time of GR, however, technologies did not pay attention to the environmental constraints of marginal regions, and particularly tolerance to stresses, such as drought and flooding, that affected the overall success of GR.
In irrigated areas, HYVs of wheat increased yield by forty percent with modest fertilizer input. Meanwhile, in dry areas, however, they often achieved gains of no more than ten percent. In the mid-1980s, almost all wheat and rice hybrid varieties (HYVs) were adopted in irrigated environments. However, the adoption rate was very low in drought-stricken environments, and in rice, poor water control was a limiting factor.
Studies have revealed that there was a strong correlation between water supply and the adoption of GR technologies in India. Therefore, it has been found that improved seed-fertilizer technologies are less widely adopted in marginal regions of the world and had less impact there than in favored regions. Similarly, the study has found that when wheat was grown in a low-potential environment, the food production decreased by about 90 percent while that in a high-potential environment increased by about 100 percent.
Criticism of Green Revolution
The GR has been praised for its accomplishment of creating enough food to feed the world but numerous criticisms have been voiced as well. Firstly, some argue that the increase in food production has led to rapid growth in population. The world is now more than 7.7 billion people too soon after the Green Revolution. Asia has been increasing rapidly while the Asian continent is in fact shrinking by about 1/3rd of its size. This has led to increased pressure on economic and environmental problems.
Second, Africa was not benefited significantly from the Green Revolution. This was because GR technologies were not used properly in Africa. The main reasons for this were: firstly, African countries had low infrastructure levels and not had properly trained workers to work with these technologies. Secondly, the unstable administrations affected the quality of life of the citizens by bullying and other unethical practices. In addition, economic insecurity also remained a major challenge for Africa.
Thirdly, the Green Revolution is often cited as the cause of the environmental disaster. It led to the widespread use of inputs that could potentially damage or kill valuable creatures, such as bees and beneficial insects. Its effects on the environment, agriculture, human populations, and wildlife have been documented in nearly every aspect of popular culture. It is because the GR led to water pollution due to the excessive and inappropriate application of fertilizers and pesticides.
Despite the criticism, the green revolution played an important role in global food production that cannot be denied. As, in order to feed the millions of people eating less food, many countries have turned to modern agricultural practices as well as advanced plowing and seeding techniques. This has resulted in better yields and more efficient crop growth. Consequently, the GR has favored traditional farming methods. In many cases, it began to take over traditional farming and turned it into a major player in the diet and health of its farmers.
Additionally, it is believed that the first successful conventional food production methods were developed during the green period. This eventually led to an expansion of industrial agriculture around the globe, as it allowed for the production of more food at a lower cost.
The Green Revolution is an example of a positive change that has characterized the history of Earth. This increase in population would not have been possible without the Green Revolution. It was an era of the dramatic transformation of farming practices throughout many countries due to one simple reason – food! The GR has forever changed the way agriculture is done. In the past, most crops were only cultivated on land that had both water and sunlight. However, with modern technology, now we can grow our crops without water or sunlight on an even amount of soil. Therefore, the way farming was before the GR was significantly different from the way it is today.