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Impact of Green Revolution

Posted Date: 09-May-2008  Last Updated:   Category: General    
Author: Member Level: Gold    Points: 4

The experience of the Green Revolution in Punjab is anexample how science takes credit for successes and frees itself from all responsibility for failures. It offers technological fixes for social and political problems, but detaches itselffrom the new social and political problems it creates. It is an illustration of how modren scientific project is politically and socially created and how it builds its immunity and obstructs its social assessment.

The Green Revolution was based on the assumption that technoloty is a betteralternative for nature's limitss. However the assumption of nature as a source of shortage, and technolgy as a source of plenty, leads to the creation of new technologies which create new scarcities in nature through ecological destruction. The reduction in availability of fertile land and loss of diversity of crops as a resuld=t of Green Revolution, illustrates that at the ecolotical level, the Green Revolution Produced scarcity, not abundance. It not only led to ecological insecurity but also social and political insecurity.
It is deceptive to reduce the roots of the Punjab crisis to religion, since the conflits are also rooted in the ecological, economic and political impacts of the Green Revolution. The communalization of the Problem, which basically arose from the policical transformation linked with the Green Revolution was based, in part, on externalizing the political impacts of technological change from the domain of science and technology.
The Green Revolution has many impacts which have drewn intense praise and equally intense criticism ----

1. Social, Economic and political impact of GreenRevolution
2. Ecological impact of Green Revolution

1. Social, Economic and political impact of GreenRevolution
Inspite of the fact that the Green Revolution brought initial monetary benefits to many farmers, especially the rich ones, those benefits were closely related to the high subsidies and price support. These kind of subsidies could not moved further indefinitely and farmers in Punjab are now facing increasing indebtedness. There is in fact an evidence of a decline in the real income per hectare of farmers since 1978.

The increased utilization of capital for purchasing inputs has produced new inequalities between those farmers who could use the new technolgy profitably, and those for whom it turned into an instrument of dispossession. Petty farmers, who make up nearly 50% of the farming community, have been particularly badly hit. A study conducted between 1976 and 1978 pointed out that small farmers' households were running into an average deficit of about 1500 rupeens. In the period between 1970 and 1980 , the number of small holding in the Punjab decreased by nearly a quarter due to their economic no-feasibility

The major beneficiaries of Green Revolution have been big farmers and the agrochemical industries, A a result of increasing dependence of peasants on off farm inputs, they have become increasingly dependent on those companies that manage the input of HYV(High Yielding Variety) seeds.
The continued commercialization ha HYV seeds has been actively encouraged by the Word Bank, without being affected by widespread resistance from the farmers who choose to retain exchange seeds among themselves, outside the market system. The World Bank has also rendered help by granting four loans to the National Seeds Project since 1969. The fourth loan which was allotted in 1988 was particularly desired to encourage the investment of the private sector, including the MNCs in the production of seeds. This type of involvement was thought to be for seeds did not expand as espected, constraining the development of the inexperienced industry.
Intensive irrigation has led to the need for large scale storage systems, centralizing control over water supplies and leading to both local and inter-state water conflicts. Despete a succession of wateer-sharing agreements between Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana, there is an increasing conflict over both the availability of wather and its quality. In the Punjab, farmers are actively campaigning to stop the construction of the Satluj -Yamuna Link Canal which will take water to Haryana, while in Haryana local politicians are trying hard for its completion.
The worsening condition of the peasantry in the Punjab which is largely made up of Sikhs, has undoubtedly contributed to the development of Punjab nationalism. Many complaint that Punjab is bing treated like a lolony in order to provide cheap food for urban elites elsewhere in India.

2. Ecological impact of Green Revolution

The Green Revolution has been a failure as far as ecology is concerned. It has led to reducedgenetic diversity. increased vulnerability to pests, soil erosion, water shortage, reduced soil fertility, micronutrient defiencies and soil contamination-

1) The Myth of High Yields---
The term 'high yielding varieties' is a wrong name or word, because it implies that the new seeds are high yielding of themeselves but actually they are highly responsive to certain key inputs such as fertilizers and water, the new seeds perform worse than the indigenous varieties.
Increasing the nitrogen uptake plants by using artifical fertilizers upsets their carbon/nitrogen balance causing matabolic problems to which the plant reacts by taking up extra water.

2. Loss of Diversity---
Diversity is a central principle of traditional agriculture in the Punjab, a in the rest of India,. Such diversity contributed to ecological stability, and hence to ecosystem productivity. The lower the diversity in an ecosystem, the higher its vulnerability to pests and desease.
The Green Revolution has reduced genetic diversity at two levels. First, it replaced mixtures and rotations of crops like wheat, maize, millets, pulses and oil seeds which monocultures of wheat and rice. Second, the introduced wheat and rice varieties came from a very narrow genetic base. On this narrow and alien genetic base the food supplies of millions are precariously perched.

3. Increasing Pesticide use-----
Because of their narrow genetic base, HYVs are inherently vulnerable to major pests and disease. As the Central Rice Research Institute, in Cuttack, concludes regarding rice, the 'high yielding varieties' are susceptible to major pests with a crop loss of 30-100%.

Even where new varieties are especially bred for resistance to disease, breakdown in resianstance to dcan occur rapidly and in some instances replacement varieties may be required every three years or so. in the Punjab the rice variety PR 106 which currently accounts for 80% of the area undercultivation, was considered resistant to white backed planthoppper and stem rot when it was introduced in 1976. it has since become susceptible to both diseases, in addition to succmbing to rice leaf folder, pispa, stem borer and several other insect pests.

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