Second green revolution in India
Second green revolution in India
- One in every two Indians relies on agriculture for livelihood, yet India still has the second highest number of undernourished people in the world. It is not surprising, therefore, that our government wants to promote a return to that golden era of the 1970s and 80s, which saw record yields thanks to the technologies made available at the time — we had improved high yielding varieties of rice and wheat, better irrigation, fertilizers, and pesticides.
- But the agricultural landscape has changed drastically since this intervention, that a second Green Revolution is going to need an entirely new approach, and an entirely new set of technologies.
- Climate change is tightening its grip and threatening food supply, not just in India but worldwide.
- The second Green Revolution should focus on generation of employment for the small and marginal farmers and the landless, while enhancing agricultural production.
- As these families mostly own degraded and low fertile lands, deprived of irrigation, the focus should be on efficient use of such lands.
- As such lands are not suitable for intensive cropping of high yielding food and cash crops, priority should be given to dryland horticulture and agri-silvi pastures.
- Tree crops have the ability to withstand the vagaries of nature without causing heavy losses. Tree farming can also provide year-round employment while protecting the soil from erosion and runoff of rain water.
- Promotion of tree farming will also enrich soil fertility and increase the water table.
Therefore, such programmes can improve the quality of life and protect the environment.
Why we need a Second Green Revolution
- Although India had become self-sufficient in basic food grains—wheat and rice—after Green Revolution, in recent years we have been facing recurrent spells of shortages in essential items like lentils, edible oil, sugar and onions resulting in their knee-jerk imports at exorbitant prices.
- Experts feel that if we do not focus immediately on increasing food production by rationalizing priorities in the agriculture sector, we may be in for a rude shock of unmanageable food scarcity.
- Our population is growing exponentially and so is the demand of food.
- Under pressure of population and industrialization the land under cultivation is continuously decreasing.
- In spite of all the development not only our agriculture but also the food distribution system is almost entirely dependent on climate. Come drought, excessive rains, floods, hailstorms or any vagaries of weather, and there are prophets of doom mushrooming all over with predictions of food scarcity and rising prices.
- We are still unable to provide assured irrigation cover to a large part of our cultivable land.
- In spite of Green Revolution, we have not been able to sustain the growth of agriculture production to match our requirements and limitations of inputs.
Focus on precision
- A new approach, termed “precision agriculture”, will be key. We now have a wealth of data at our disposal, which, if harnessed appropriately, can help farmers make the most efficient use of vital inputs such as water and fertilizer by applying them in precise amounts.
- A new mobile phone application called MITRA, for example, is being developed in Tamil Nadu, that will give site-specific recommendations to farmers on the correct fertilizer dose, based on data from the local department of agriculture. It is able to operate offline for farmers in remote areas who do not have internet access.
- Testing of samples of soil from agricultural fields is vital for achieving nutrient stewardship. India has a vast network of 661 soil testing laboratories including 120 mobile vans operating in 608 districts that can carry out 7.2 million tests annually.Also ‘Mridaparikshak‘ instrument has been recently launched for finding about physical and chemical properties of soil.
- Farmers will soon be able to access these reports online. Besides soil-testing, gadgets such as leaf colour charts and optical sensors are becoming popular with farmers to guide the application of urea.
- This nitrogen fertilizer, if used incorrectly, can affect groundwater reserves and contribute to emissions of the greenhouse gas, nitrous oxide.
- Just like humans, soils need a balanced diet of the right kind of nutrients in order to be healthy; this is a fact that has been overlooked by government subsidy programmes that only favoured urea for a long time.
- The farmer must have a way of asking questions and giving feedback, either through a helpline or via “field scouts” who visit the villages receiving the mobile-based information.
- The research also showed that a wider range of issues needs to be tackled in addition to input use, such as how to deal with pests, and new climate-resistant crop varieties.
- Another major challenge is the evidence that groundwater stocks are rapidly depleting. Groundwater sustains around 60 per cent of agriculture in India, while 80 per cent of the people living in rural areas use groundwater for their domestic needs.