What is the Green Revolution?

1 Answer
Jul 22, 2017

Green revolution is a crucial period of agriculture in India when proactive diplomats and visionary scientists together saved the country from the clutches of an imminent famine.

Dr M S SWaminathan is regarded as father of Indian Green Revolution.


USAID director William Gaud in 1968 coined the term 'green revolution' to describe the phenomenal success of high yielding hybrids in developing countries like India.

The success story started in 1940s in Mexico where American researcher Norman Borlaug joined a wheat research project, partly funded by Rockefeller foundation. He was part of an all American team working in International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), Mexico.

Borlaug crossed and back-crossed immense number of plants and developed a number of hybrid wheat varieties. He was crossing American high yielding wheat cultivars with Japanese dwarf types and produced lodging resistant semi dwarf plants. Next he crossed disease resistant plants with the semi dwarf. He ultimately came up with wheat rust resistant semi dwarf high yielding wheat varieties, which were released in 1960s.

During this twenty years wheat yield in Mexico increased more than six times. He also encouraged world wide multilocation testing and that is how some seeds reached the fields of Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New DElhi.

In the institute geneticist Dr M S Swaminathan realised the potential of semi dwarf plants: that these will be able to withstand comparatively higher dose of nitrogen fertiliser without becoming too tall, hence India's wheat yield will increase substantially.

The then director of IARI, Dr B P Pal requested the then minister of Agriculture C. Subramaniam to arrange for visit of Norman Borlaug to India. Due to Subramaniam's political leadership 100 kg of best quality seeds were imported from Mexico in 1963. Soon it was established that the Mexican varieties adapted well in Indian environmental conditions. By 1965, several hundred tons of seeds were sent to both INDIA and Pakistan.

In India, wheat yields increased from 12.3 million tons in 1965 to 20.1 million tons in 1970. During the same period, wheat yield in Pakistan doubled. Eventually India became self sufficient in production of cereal crops despite a very high population growth rate.

Norman Borlaug has been awarded Nobel peace prize, for his contribution in alleviating world hunger, in 1970. He is the original father of green revolution which positively influenced socioeconomic growth in many latin american and asian countries.

Dr M S Swaminathan received a number of prestigious awards and accolades including the first World Food Prize. He has been recognised as one of the most influential of twenty Asian people (along with Mahatma Gandhi) of twentieth century by Time magazine.