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Invisible Injustices-9.

India, Nov. 30 -- In the many agricultural training programmes I have conducted for social activists I was always at pains to impress upon them the need for agricultural education for themselves and for the farmers among whom they are working.

But they would counter: "Green revolution has already swept over India and there is no need for any agricultural education. We are already experiencing the problems of green revolution such as land alienation, displacement of labour, high inputs requirements for production, capitalistic farming etc."

Most of them firmly believe that there was green revolution in India. "India is self- sufficient in food grain," observed many of them and hence for them there is no doubt about the green revolution in India. But was there a green revolution in India? In this article I intend to answer this question in a critical but simple way as would be understandable for the common mind.

'Green revolution' means greening India by the cultivation of crops in a revolutionary manner. A revolution means a sudden change in a single rotational movement and the replacement of one system with another.

In agriculture it means that the fields are maintained green and productive for at least most periods in a year by the cultivation of two or three crops one after another. Green revolution, thus, has an extensive (more and more area brought under cultivation) and an intensive (several crops cultivated during the year on the same land) connotation. In short, it is a revolutionary change in agricultural patterns of production with a significant increase in yield. To assess whether such a revolutionary change occurred in our country or not, the following analysis will be helpful.

India's total geographical area is 328.7 million hectares, of which 145 million hectares are cultivated, with 45% under irrigation. Excluding the numerous medicinal, aromatic, and flower plants cultivated, and nuts and tree crops, 221 crops are cultivated in the various parts of our country. Very few countries in the world are able to cultivate such a large variety of crops. The cultivated areas in our country, therefore, and theoretically speaking, can be kept green by growing these crops throughout the year.

However, it is also a fact that Punjab and Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh had witnessed a marked change in the productivity of two crops like wheat and rice.

The yields in these areas are higher though not comparable to the world average. The average yield of paddy and wheat in Punjab is 33.3 and 34.9 quintals per hectare respectively, and in Haryana 24.5 and 28.3 quintals, whereas the world average yields in paddy and wheat are 40 and 28.2 quintals per hectare respectively. The yields in some of the traditionally paddy growing states such as Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur and Orissa the yields are 19.6, 10.4, 11.2, 17.0 and 14.69 quintals respectively. Agriculture is both extensive and intensive in these areas. But these three pockets of green revolution jointly form, only 3.8% of India's total geographical area or about 8% of the total net area cultivated.

Again out of 221 crops that are cultivated in India only two of the food crops have shown significant increase in their yield. No other crops show significant increase in the yield. If this is so how can anyone credit the whole country with green revolution?

Productivity in vast stretches of agricultural land in Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, Orissa, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra remains deplorably low. Often people attribute the enviable success in Punjab and Haryana to their extensive irrigation facilities. But the same people are ignorant about the fact that Andhra Pradesh, among the many states, has the maximum area under irrigation, but its yields are low.

Green revolution, as already mentioned, means a significant increase in the yield of at least most of the crops cultivated in a country. Let us analyse the average productivity rate of a few major crops in a India during that last three decades. It is for the reader is to judge whether there has been a green revolution in India in terms of increase in the productivity of the crops listed.

From time immemorial paddy was cultivated in India. Yet its productivity varies between 10 to 15 quintals per hectare, probably one of the lowest in the world. The average rate of productivity in the major paddy growing countries in the world varies from 50-60 quintals per hectare.

Here it is relevant to ask as to why, despite the six to seven thousand years of experience in cultivation, and with the maximum area (40 million hectares) under paddy cultivation, India ranks one of the lowest in terms of productivity of this crop. During the last six decades the productivity rate of paddy has increased to only by 17quintals. Can we call this a green revolution?

However, a significant productivity increase can be observed in the case of wheat; it almost doubled during the sixties and seventies. Judging by this increase one can say that green revolution has been realized in the case of wheat. However between 1960-61 and 1987-88 the total production increased from 7.1 q/ha to only 11.6 q/ha. An increase of 4.5 q/ha in three decades indicates a very poor performance compared to the world average. Going

The present (2012) production 257 million tons from 145 million hectares land registers a productivity rate of only 17.7 quintals which is very low by world standards. The world average productivity for food grains is estimated at around 30 quintals per hectare. How can a country where the productivity of food grains does not even at the world average, boast of a green revolution? Moreover, in pulse and oil seed production the situation is deplorable. As everyone knows, pulses and oil seeds form major items of import every year.

The productivity of sugarcane shows an increasing trend whereas that in cotton is highly fluctuating. The productivity of all the 221 crops cultivated in India has not increased significantly. As proved beyond doubt, in Punjab, Haryana and Western V.P. it is possible to increase the yield of these crops and bring it to the world average.

Realising the potential with the Introduction of improved varieties of crops, a green revolution was made an objective in the early 60's to attain self-sufficiency in food supply. Unfortunately this objective is not achieved except in a very limited area compared to the whole area of the country. This is the reason Dr M.S. Swaminathan, a leading agricultural scientist in our country, admitted that green revolution 'is not yet a reality it is only a proposed target'.

This being the situation of India's agriculture, a legitimate question that should arise in the minds of every one would be why should there be all this trumpeting and fanfare about a green revolution in India especially by urban based politicians, administrators, and scholars? Perhaps it helps them to keep the people of India in a state of euphoria.

For politicians it serves as a means to secure votes and to stay in power. For civil administrators if affords an opportunity to credit their professional career with some achievements. For scholars it is a neutral and safe subject for a discussion in seminars and their writings. There is hardly a limit to the number of books and articles that have been written and published by scholars on the green revolution in India that did not take place.

Few lacks of farmers have already committed suicide in India. Agriculture in Punjab and Haryana is in doldrums. The National Crime Record Board claims suicide 46 farmers per day. Malnutrition and undernourishment in India is one of the highest in the world. Over 38.4% of children under age three are stunted in growth, that is too short for their age, and 46% are underweight, that is too thin for their age.

Wasting, defined as an abnormally low weight for the child's height affects 19% of children under age three in India; overall, girls and boys are about equally likely to be undernourished. About 80 (79.2) percent of the children under age three are anaemic. When the country is fried by droughts or drained by floods in every two or three years and its people are reeling in poverty, to paint a beautiful picture about the so-called green revolution is nothing short of injustice Invisible.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Indian Currents.

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Publication:Indian Currents
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Nov 30, 2015
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