The Green Revolution refers to a series of research and development andtechnology transfer initiatives, occurring between the 1930s and the late 1960s (with prequels in the work of the agrarian genetist Nazareno Strampelli in the 1920s and 1930s), that increased agricultural production worldwide, particularly in the developing world, beginning most markedly in the late 1960s.The initiatives, led by Norman Borlaug, the “Father of the Green Revolution,” who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, credited with saving over a billion people from starvation, involved 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.
The term “Green Revolution” was first used in 1968 by former United States Agency for International Development (USAID) director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies: “These and other developments in the field of agriculture contain the makings of a new revolution. It is not a violent Red Revolution like that of the Soviets, nor is it a White Revolution like that of the Shah of Iran. I call it the Green Revolution.”
Green Revolution’s start in India
In 1961, India was on the brink of mass famine.Norman Borlaug was invited to India by the adviser to the Indian minister of agriculture C. Subramaniam. Despite bureaucratic hurdles imposed by India’s grain monopolies, the Ford Foundation and Indian government collaborated to import wheat seed from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center(CIMMYT). Punjab was selected by the Indian government to be the first site to try the new crops because of its reliable water supply and a history of agricultural success. India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals.
India soon adopted IR8 – a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) that could produce more grains of rice per plant when grown with certain fertilizers and irrigation. In 1968, Indian agronomist S.K. De Datta published his findings that IR8 rice yielded about 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer, and almost 10 tons per hectare under optimal conditions. This was 10 times the yield of traditional rice.IR8 was a success throughout Asia, and dubbed the “Miracle Rice”. IR8 was also developed into Semi-dwarf IR36.
In the 1960s, rice yields in India were about two tons per hectare; by the mid-1990s, they had risen to six tons per hectare. In the 1970s, rice cost about $550 a ton; in 2001, it cost under $200 a ton. India became one of the world’s most successful rice producers, and is now a major rice exporter, shipping nearly 4.5 million tons in 2006.
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