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The rise of the green revolution relates to the period in which agriculture was changed into a system due to the use of modern processes and technology such as high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, irrigation infrastructure, tractors, pesticides, and fertilizers. The Green Revolution technology spread worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s due to its effectiveness in manufacturing more agricultural products.
William Gaud coined the term “green revolution,” and Norman Borlaug is the “Father of the Green Revolution.” The Green Revolution, a term used to describe rapid improvements in rice and wheat yields in developing nations caused by improved cultivars combined with increased use of fertilizers and other synthetic inputs, has significantly influenced many developing countries’ incomes and food supplies.
The Green Revolution was a revolutionary agricultural effort in the twentieth century that used plant genetics, sophisticated irrigation systems, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides to increase food production and eradicate hunger and poverty in developing countries. The era of the green revolution started in Mexico when scientists produced a hybrid wheat strain that increased yields considerably. Hunger and malnutrition decreased dramatically after its implementation. The approach was subsequently expanded to Asia, Latin America, and Africa to enhance food production for expanding populations while using substantially less land. However, as the Green Revolution’s practices and policies led to inequity and environmental destruction, they were called into doubt.
The origins of the Green Revolution are frequently attributed to Norman Borlaug, an American agricultural scientist. In the 1940s, he started researching in Mexico, creating new disease-resistant high-yield wheat types. Mexico managed to generate more wheat than was needed by its inhabitants through the combination of Borlaug’s varieties of wheat with new mechanized agricultural technologies, leading to the country being a wheat exporter by the 1960s. Before introducing these types, the country imported about half of its annual wheat supply. Because of the Green Revolution’s success in Mexico, its technology expanded worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s. For example, the United States imported around half of its wheat in the 1940s, but after implementing Green Revolution technologies, it became independent in the 1950s and an exporter by the 1960s.
Countries worldwide profited from Borlaug’s and this research institution’s Green Revolution efforts. Because of its fast-rising population, India, for example, was on the verge of mass starvation in the early 1960s. Borlaug and the Ford Foundation then conducted research there, developing a new rice variety, IR8, that yielded more grain per plant when planted with irrigation and fertilizers. At present, India is one of the world’s leading rice producers, and the use of IR8 rice spread across Asia in the decades following its introduction in India.
The Green Revolution has concentrated on the worldwide issue of sustainability by determining only efficiency per hectare or yields generated by advances in technology, new varieties of seeds, systems for irrigation, and the appropriateness of the land to render it economically feasible and environmentally friendly for growing any particular crop in a region. To achieve sustainable development, however, organic farming, agricultural precision tools, life cycle assessment, soil as well as plant health, effects on the environment, water quality, post-harvest technology, by-product applications, and peasant and farmer assessments of new paradigms such as globalization, a chain of custody, competitiveness, bioeconomics, biorefineries, and so on must be included.
To accomplish a transition to an evergreen revolution and environmental sustainability, strategies for technical advice; training; improvement of skills; transfer and acceptance of technological advances and knowledge; endures and developments with a multi-, trans-, and interdisciplinary approach; and the engagement of higher education with all actors and decision-makers are required.
The generation of innovative wheat cultivars was the Green Revolution’s novel technological development. Agronomists developed HYVs, or “high-yielding varieties” of maize, wheat, and rice. HYVs have a greater capacity for nitrogen absorption than other cultivars. Semi-dwarfing genes were developed into cereal genomes because crops that absorbed excess nitrogen would generally lodge or fall over before harvest. Cecil Salmon brought a Japanese dwarf wheat cultivar, Norin 10, invented by Japanese agronomist Gonjiro Inazuka, to Orville Vogel at Washington State University, which was essential for creating Green Revolution wheat cultivars.
Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as the “Father of the Green Revolution,” developed rust-resistant cultivars with solid and sturdy stems that prevent plants from falling over in extreme weather and high fertilization levels. These breeding programs were carried out by the CIMMYT (Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maiz y Trigo – International Centre for Maize and Wheat Improvements) and aided in the spread of high-yielding cultivars in Mexico and Asian countries such as India and Pakistan. These programs were successful in doubling the crop in these countries.
Plant experts discovered various characteristics associated with high crop yields and identified the genes affecting plants’ height and tiller number. The mutant genes that regulate Arabidopsis thaliana genes (GA 20-oxidase, ga1, ga1-3, wheat reduced-height genes (Rht), and a rice semidwarf gene (sd1) were cloned thanks to breakthroughs in molecular genetics. These were discovered to be gibberellin biosynthesis or cellular signaling component genes. In the mutant background, stem cell development is considerably inhibited, resulting in the dwarf phenotype. Because shorter plants are mechanically more stable, photosynthetic investment in the stem is reduced significantly. Assimilates are diverted to grain production, enhancing the impact of chemical fertilizers on commercial yield in particular.
With proper irrigation, herbicides, and fertilizers, HYVs outperform traditional cultivars significantly. Traditional varieties may exceed HYVs in the absence of these inputs. As a result, numerous scholars have questioned HYVs’ apparent superiority when compared to conventional types alone and when comparing the monocultural system connected with HYVs to the polyculture system related to traditional ones.
The foundation of this green revolution in agriculture was a set of interventions to boost crop yield, primarily based on American industrialized practices that had made locations like California global agricultural leaders. This includes supplementing the soil with potent chemical fertilizers and using chemical pesticides to combat plant infections and pests. When combined with contemporary irrigation technologies and farm equipment, the strategies doubled and tripled production.
Overall, the Green Revolution was a significant accomplishment for numerous developing countries, particularly India, providing them with unparalleled levels of national food security. It signified an effective adaptation and adoption of the same agricultural scientific revolution that the industrial countries had previously appropriated for themselves. However, little attention was paid to elements other than food security, such as the environment, poor farmers, and their education on using such chemicals. As a next step, governments must more precisely target people with low incomes to guarantee that they obtain more significant direct advantages from emerging technology, and such technologies must also be more environmentally friendly.