Green Revolution

The Green Revolution, or the Third Agricultural Revolution (after the Neolithic Revolution and the British Agricultural Revolution), is the set of research technology transfer initiatives occurring between 1950 and the late 1960s, that increased agricultural production in parts of the world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s. The initiatives resulted in the adoption of new technologies, including high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of cereals, especially dwarf wheat and rice. It was associated with chemical fertilizers, agrochemicals, and controlled water-supply (usually involving irrigation) and newer methods of cultivation, including mechanization. All of these together were seen as a ‘package of practices’ to supersede ‘traditional’ technology and to be adopted as a whole. The key elements of the revolution include: 1) Use of the latest technological and capital inputs, 2) adoption of modern scientific methods of farming, 3) use of high yielding varieties of seeds, 4) proper use of chemical fertilizers, 5) consolidation of land holdings, 6) Use of various mechanical machineries. Both the Ford Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation were heavily involved in its initial development in Mexico.

One key leader was agricultural scientist Norman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution”, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. He is credited with saving over a billion people from starvation. The basic approach was the development of high-yielding varieties of cereal grains, expansion of irrigation infrastructure, modernization of management techniques, distribution of hybridized seeds, synthetic fertilizers, and pesticides to farmers. As the development of new cereal varieties through selective breeding reached their limits, some agricultural scientists turned to the creation of new strains that did not exist in nature, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a phenomenon sometimes called the Gene Revolution, also discussed in the 2006 book with the same name by Professor Sakiko Fukuda-Parr.