Green Revolution 2.0: What we need to do

Posted By: Bishwambhar Mishra|Dated: August 26, 2011

As we complete sixty-four years of nationhood, we have many achievements to take pride in. Nearly all of them rest on the single most spectacular success of independent India: gaining self-sufficiency in food production. Remember the endemic famines of the British Raj and the port-to-mouth days of the 1960s? Today we not only produce enough to feed our population of 1.21 billion—we export food to other countries.

Green Revolution 2.0: What we need to do

The technological breakthroughs of the Green Revolution in the 60s and 70s sprang us forward.  But our growth has slowed. Agricultural growth has missed targets by 1 percentage point for the past 4 years, and the combination of economic growth with a swelling population means more people are demanding more agricultural commodities.  Add in slow supply side responses and consistent high inflation, and the sluggish improvement in yield per acre with a finite supply of arable land.  At the same time, the Government is guaranteeing food security for its citizens with legislation likethe impending Food Security Bill, which offers subsidized food grains to nearly 7 in 10 Indians.

We are at another crossroads.

If we want to continue to grow, we need to catalyze a second Green Revolution that builds on what we learned from the first.

In the 60s and 70s, excessive use of chemical fertilizer and water drove productivity increases. This was however unsustainable in the long run. The Revolution also touched only a small percentage of India’s total arable land. This time, we need to focus on increasing yields in land we already farm, environmental sustainability, and inclusiveness.

So what can we do?

First, we need to enable farmers to adopt more advanced agricultural inputs.  Mechanization is spreading, but not fast enough. Tractor penetration in India lags the global average, with affordability posing a major obstacle. We can also sustainably improve yields by using better seeds: the new Seed Bill will help support the growth of the seed industry to help develop and distribute better varieties.

Second, we need to invest in knowledge and skill development of the farming communities.  Agricultural extension services can be offered through both private and public participation. Teaching best practices can both help farmers achieve higher yields in the short term and spread sustainable practices that keep yields high in the long run. For example, farmers need to learn soil nutrient management so that increased productivity doesn’t leach the soil of nutrients.

The government can strengthen the impact of agri-education with subsidy schemes and incentives. We should explore a nutrient-based subsidy scheme to encourage optimal nutrient use. Government schemes can also encourage resource-efficient irrigation techniques like micro-irrigation.

Third, capital investment in agriculture needs to be stepped up. Agricultural growth is held back by insufficient infrastructure: storage, communication, roads, markets, cold chains, food processing, handling and packaging. Public Private Partnerships can be an efficient model for ensuring timely and quality delivery and maintenance of this infrastructure.

Fourth, an increase in productivity needs to be translated into better price realization for farmers. The key is setting up efficient supply chains.  Good supply chains bring farmers a better price by removing middlemen and linking them more closely with the end-customer. Agriculture can learn from the success of milk co-operatives in the “White Revolution.”

Finally, we need to stem migration from rural to urban areas by improving opportunities in rural India.  Initiatives for increasing non-agricultural rural income—self-help groups for women and encouragement of entrepreneurship in agri-support activities, for starters—can go a long way.  Building enthusiasm for farming will also help keep the youth on the land.

By 2025, India is expected to be the most populous country in the world.  Securing food, nutrition, and livelihood security for our rising population is urgent.  We need to act now to increase agricultural yields. The Second Green Revolution needs to focus on environmental sustainability and broad-based impact. It needs to go beyond yesterday’s technological revolution to spark a social revolution, making rural India as attractive as urban India.

How do you think we can spark the next Green Revolution? What challenges and opportunities do you see for the Second Green Revolution?  What other lessons can we learn from the first one?

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About the author:

Bishwambar Mishra

Currently Chief Executive of Mahindra & Mahindra’s Tractor and Farm Mechanization division, Bishwambhar joined Mahindra in 1999. He led the integration of Punjab Tractors Ltd after its acquisition in 2007.  With 40 years of experience in the automotive industry, he serves on the Governing Councils of the PEC University of Technology, Chandigarh and the Indian Society for Quality.  He also devotes time to social service in education and aiding micro and small enterprises. He holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a postgraduate diploma in Business Management from XLRI, Jamshedpur.

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  • http://www.growingwall.com Jamela

    With agiculture land eaten up by vested interests & cities growing by leaps & bounds, we need much more emphasis on urban agriculture, an area the govt is not showing any seriousness. It’s time private sector engages itself with much more rigorous efforts to find new & better options like Hydroponics & aquaponics.    
    The future, as I see it, is in going vertical. vertical farming will be one of the most important areas for urban agriculture.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LFLXATYQSLPSD7C7HOY37DB3GE Rajeev

    There are quite a good initiatives taken in this sector by govt. Only time will decide on their success. But we all want to see beyond the usual.
    I see that there are few concerns raised like , due to over fertilizer usage the land yield has gone down. Low reach of tractors in the villages, need for better supply chain in the country. Though all given and accepted, what I see is a corporate like Mahindra have all the needed resouces to address all of these.
    Like
    1. yes I may be totally out wrong in this but, why not try to have a tractor run on CNG, make it cheaper for farmers in doing so. Even a penny counts in rural.
    2. Mahindra have now taken over a large IT company, why not utilize those resources, brains to work on a project for farmers benefits. Like building a small gizmo that will update the farmer having your tractor to know what is the weather prediction, store the land quality details and help them understand how their land can be utilized to grow more variety of crops during off seasons. Have it connected real time with MCX Or govt. own warehouses.

    Ideas are endless it just needs some push.

  • Vijayhole

    We need to make awareness of new technology used in farming.Want to give information about how to use new technology in farm.

  • jeno paul

    we need new varieties new technologies which make the farmers effort better……….. nothing more is needed

  • Anmol

    My personal suggestions for further benefits from the farms are: The Farming Should be done on a bed with small pores so that water can nourish the seeds and as well flow out so as to avoid water logging. Also the crops must be under a cover or shed which cud use the rainwater to slowly nourish the plant from above and cud also store the water for other uses! Hence water will also be conserved promoting rain water harvesting. Such agriculture would minimize the risk of wastage of crop due to Floods and thus protecting the Farmers hard work and money. Also in the condition of Drought, the water saved can be used to protect the crops by providing them with necessary conditions to survive even in a harsh climate! 

  • Sunil Deshpande.

    Hi ! This is Sunil Deshpande,an Architect with 24+ years successful practice.I am a film producer,and have been working on a film based on “Farmers Suicides”taking place in Maharashtra,Karnataka & Andhra Pradesh since 2004.The subject is very big.I am searching for sponsors.Can Mahindra Rise help me ?
    Thanks & Regards !
    Sunil Deshpande,
    PUNE. ( Maharashtra )
    09850963117

  • Rishikharbanda

    Solution lies in “PRIVATIZING THE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION BUT THE DISTRIBUTION CONTROLS LIES WITH THE GOVERNMENT ONLY” ..then only the productivity can be increased upto the mark  and also the poorest person could get the food!!

  • Rajesh Pishe

    The First Green Revolution which was a Bonanza for India and Indians took place in 1960s and 1970s…and they politicians and Agri Scientist thought that their job is done and they can relax now….but the second GR should have taken place in 1990s and early 2000 but it did not happen so….. Blame who Politicos…Unfortunate….
    My Advice might be unacceptable for some but it can make the difference.
    Eg: Madhya Pradesh which is largest Wheat Growing area/state can be even larger wheat growing state if we clear the remaining FOREST cover and develop that for farming use…as in another 10 to 12 years India’s population will be largest in the world…..!

  • Rajahkousikan

    1.Mahindra can start some type of centre which will start renting out farm equipments at a nominal rate and it should be available through out india .
    2.Indian agri scientist should be made accountable if you go to any KVK you will all doctrates and I find many  of them even dont have the basic courtesy to talk and convey the findings to the farmers.
    3.First these scientist should also have updates of the latest improvements thats taken place as they are in the front and conveying the same to the farmers and should be evaluated on there updation.(it was a great surprise for me to understand that 80% of them had little knowledge about organic cultivation)

  • nirath manipanda

    first we have to improve the distribution system and ensure that farmer gets the fair price for his hard-work today farmers have become slaves of middle men  .last week i sold the ginger i grew for rs 10 in local mandi and my sister brought the ginger for rs 25per kilo  in banglore the same day which is just 300 kms from my place .just imagine who benefited from my work .we have to work out something like the milk co op system .women self help groups all over the nation may help we farmers provide a national network chain to supply the agro product to door step of consumers .they are not greedy as our middle men they will do it for a minimal cost .it will help farmers get better price for their produce and will help       inflation to be in normal bcoz middle men is the cause for food inflation to rise not farmers are over demand they create the demand 

  • Vinay Shukla

     Thanks for the initiative :-)
    India the country with highest population also needs the food-grains to survive this abundant raw material called Human resource. With increasing emphasis on Industrialization and Infrastructure and the latest bill which says that the farming land if acquired for Industrial development will fetch 4 times the market rate.I vision in the coming 20 25 years the sector that will be under the maximum stress would be the agriculture sector.If you still say that 70% of India still relies on Agriculture for its source of income you are wrong.I myself was influenced by a project called NANO Ganesh which was used to provide automation in the Agriculture sector. The demand supply ratio will be highly unbalanced in the coming years and with the scarcity of the farming land and decreasing land size.(e.g  a family that has 2 children has 4 acres of land the 4 acres will be divided in 2-2 acres among each child and the generation that comes after them may also get half of it and so on…. ).I want a company like Mahindra which makes one of the India’s most efficient tractors to get in to the Automation in the Agricultural sector. I really vision Agriculture leading all the sectors in coming 40 50 years reason is obvious increasing population limited resources,corrupt officials and unpredictable nature. The  cost of food grains will see a sharp rise of more than 100% in the coming 5-10 years.
    Thanks
    Don’t be serious Be sincere
    http://shuklavinay.co.cc

  • Hari Om

    Very nice article. Its great to see M & M is taking such a great initiative to bring about a positive change in people’s life. No other country can feed the worlds most populous territory i, e India, so we need to be Independent to address our food security. that cant be done unless government & people of India work together for better tomorrow. I think since the globalization stepped in our country, rural India and farmers became most ignored section of our economic policy and currently all of us paying for this. High food prices, inflation and more is on the way. so we need to wake and address this issue before its too late. 

  • Deepak Purohit

    Solution lies in to change the mentality of society towards the farmers.We can give a Rs.50 for a packet of Cigarrete but when onion /tomato or any agricultural produce is a little bit costlier we cry inflation, RBI and indian govt.Farming should be given a good respect and should be make so profitable so that people shouldnot cry for govt jobs and farmers should not seek to leave farming beside making microfinance and financila inclusion people’s participiation is the need of hour for 2.0 green revolution.

  • R Hariharan

    Only solution is corporatisation of agriculture using mechanised modern farming.  But thanks to the recent land acquisition bill we will have find a novel method. The company should target 100,000 acres which should be farmed through a joint venture. While the company should hold 50% share the balance should be distributed to the farmers at the rate of 1 share per acre to the farmers who join the scheme. This is in addition to the market price of land.   The farmers owners /theri family members should be employed in the farming process which should be fully mechanised (using Mahindra tractors and earth moving equipments, trucks, pickups. etc.)  Farmers can be financed for purchase of  Mahindra vehicles as well.  

  • Sivafoodpro

    Hi -i am Food Technologist working on Food NPD and had been finding out solutions to the India agri problems – some products and concepts developed

    we have matured from agri scarce nation to nation with problem of surlplus–yet could not feed the poor at low price and majority of public with sudden steep price hike due hoarding and malpractice and poor Agricultural policy
     
    1.In Agri produce we need to improve productivity
    2.The present problem of wastage of perishable crops and produce must be reduced [40-60% produce is wasted,due to rotting, poor price,lack of storage facilities ]
    3.We need comprehensive yet simple solution to –Grain storage and utilization 

  • Sivafoodpro

    hi –along with green revolution –I believe in “Brown Revolution” [brown is denoted color of  bakery product but in general it is for food processing ind] that is is necessary for India badly where possible

    this Food Processing ind helps in conserving and converting perishable produce[after fulfilling basic commodity need of public] by semi-processed industry into pastes/pulps / flour[grains] that could be stored for over a year—which could be utlised by by bulk consuming ind  Food processing ind  for manufacturing of all packed food items and by public

    the problem of grains storage is–grains cannot be stored for long time and it attracts pests –it must be distributed to public or bulk consuming Food industry/bakery

    1.I developed solutions to the problem of Tomato and Onion produce that are used extensively veg and result in scarcity and during glut this is often get wasted /rotted —and developed ‘food product/s’ and concept/s to mitigate the problem

    2.Also working on Grain usage in developing Consumer food product and concepts –thereby we can use grains otherwise rot in storage silos [a national problem]

    let us not produce Food only to be wasted……..

  • Abhro

    I am very convinced and in agreement with the article. As we all know what and where is the problem let us pledge to solve it with all the upfront solutions.

  • Sartaj

    Let us do what we are talking.I am mechanical engineer trying to change the way people perceive the agriculture  by improving the productivity and taking pride what i do.

  • Suraj Jagadeeshwaran

    Indian food security will not be a worry if each and every Indian Household takes up growing their own food in their balcony,terrace,backyard or any space they find. It doesn’t matter if initially their garden produces only one tomato/capsicum/Brinjal. Let the plants be grown organically. Let us follow Cuba’s example. Let us begin growing organic food at our homes, schools, community spaces, villages, towns and cities.WE should be self sufficient wholly organically grown food country.

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