50 years of Green Revolution: Role of agriculture and farmers in Indian Economy

50 years of green revolution


  • In 2017, India has completed her 50 years of Green revolution. When India got independence, her economy was mainly dependent on agriculture. After two successive wars with Pakistan and China and famine of 1967-68, India faced problem of hunger and scarcity of food. India’s agro-dependent economy had got collapsed at that time.
  • During 4th five year plan, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by Indira Gandhi launched Green revolution to solve challenges of growing demand of foods. The aim of revolution was to make India self-reliable and self-sufficient in her growing demand of foods.
  • In March 1965, India invited Dr. Norman Borluag, an American agronomist and humanitarian to take his opinion on increasing the productivity of wheat. His assistance and high yielding varities of seeds helped India to improve her production of wheat.
  • In 1966, agricultural scientist Dr. M.S Swaminathan proposed a high yielding programme for wheat, rice and bajra. The aim of programme was to cover 2 million hectare land. For this purpose, India imported 18,000 tonnes of seeds of two varities from Maxico. HYP helped India to increase her productivity of wheat. India saw a quantum growth in production from 10 million tonnes to 17 million tonnes. This quantum increase in productivity of wheat was mainly contributed by Punjab. That’s why this happening was called as Punjab revolution.
  • In 1968, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi released a stamp called the white revolution. When India got independence, her productivity was confined to 6 million tonnes but after HYP productivity reached to 17 million tonnes. This programme helped India to become self-reliable and self-sufficient in her growing demand of food. That is why it is called Green revolution and Dr. M.S Swaminathan is called as father of green revolution of India.

Current status of Indian agriculture industry

  • According to economic survey – 2015, growth in agro-GDP in food year 2015 was just 1.1%. But it is estimated that growth rate for agriculture and allied sectors will reach to 4.1% for 2016-17.
  • The production of Kharif-food grains in 2016 – 17 is estimated at 135 million tonnes compared to 124.1 million tonnes in 2015 – 16.
  • The areas sown under kharif and rabi crops also increased during 2016 – 17. It is increased by 3.5% and 5.9% respectively.

Challenges of Indian agriculture sector

  • Agriculture sector plays an important role in India’s economy. Over 58% of Indian rural households are dependent on agriculture as their means of livelihood. Agriculture along with fisheries and forestry is one of the biggest contributors to India’s GDP.
  • But achieving food and nutrition security today and for India’s population that will rise to 1.5 billion by 2030 is a key challenge.
  • While India has seen a widespread economic growth in recent years. But the country still struggles with poverty and hunger. India’s poor population amount to more than 300 million and almost more than 30% India’s population lives in poverty. This creates a big challenge.
  • Apart from poverty and hunger challenge, Ecological and economic challenges are two major problem of Indian agriculture.
  • If we look on ecological challenge, we find that agriculture assets such as land, ground water and bio-diversity need conservation. Making agriculture sustainable is also a key challenge. Increasing productivity without harming natural ecological assets is the current demand. In Punjab and other Green revolution states, ground water has gone down and became saline. Further, increase in population is ratcheting up pressure on farming to increase crops yield.
  • Recently we have seen suicides of farmers. We have also seen the protest of farmers in Madhya Pradesh. This reflects the economic challenges involved in farming. The occupation of farming will have to make more profitable. It is time to devise the way to lower the cost of production and reduce the risks involved in agricultural assets such as pests, pathogens and weeds.
  • Today, expected conditions of farmers are adverse. Due to low return, they are unable to repay debts and hence they are committing suicide.

Role of government behind adverse conditions of farmer

  • Swaminathan commission summited its report in 2006 to increase the Minimum Support Price (MSP) and food price inflation in front of UPA government. But government failed to implement the recommendations.
  • Farmers constitutes nearly half of the working population and they also have right to eat. Government is now willing to pay 7th pay commission salaries to insulate government servants from inflation. But they are not intended to provide higher income to farmers to solve their problems.
  • If we look on recent happening, the farm loan waivers are creating burden to government’s head. But government is not prepared to tackle this challenge.
  • In 2009, UPA government had given 72,000 crore as farm loan waiver but no government is prepared to provide long term stability in farming.

How can government improve income of farmer

  • According to M.S Swaminathan, there are three ways to improve the income of farmers. Those are MSP and procurement, productivity and market surplus.
  • Minimum Support Price (MSP) and procurement are essential to improve the conditions of farmer. We also need to think to improve productivity. Government should think to enhance marketable surplus from agriculture.
  • Government has to also look at making value addition to biomass. For example, a paddy straw is a biomass product but it could be used to make edible mushrooms.


The Green revolution of 1967-68 was able to solve the crisis of food in short run. But heavy use of pesticides and high yielding varities of seeds have resulted in environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity. It is time to launch evergreen revolution. In this way, we can increase the productivity without harming biodiversity. It includes pest management, integrated nutrients supply and scientific approach to water management. These steps will help to avoid the environmental damages. Organic farming can also become feasible in Indian climate. But its management can be difficult because of involvement of organic manure, pests control and diseases.

It is time to implement food security act properly to address the issue of poverty and hunger. Government should also enlarge food basket to include multi-nutrients millet. Unfortunately, we are not treating farmers, the largest group of entrepreneurs properly. Our all policies are related to corporate powers. Agriculture is the integral part of the country and farming is the most important enterprise of the country. So, we have to think about them too.


Image Source: Indian Express

Article Written By: Satyendra Pandit



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