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Although the Mexican Revolution had broken the back of the hacienda system and land reform in Mexico had by distributed a large expanse of land in central and southern Mexico, agricultural productivity had fallen. During the administration of Manuel Avila Camacho —46 , the government put resources into developing new breeds of plants and partnered with the Rockefeller Foundation.

Professor Swaminathan, the father of economic ecology, talks about dire predictions for India

Agriculture in Mexico had been a sociopolitical issue, a key factor in some regions' participation in the Mexican Revolution. It was also a technical issue, enabled by a cohort of trained agronomists, who were to advise peasants how to increase productivity. This drive for agricultural transformation would have the benefit of keeping Mexico self-sufficient in food and in the political sphere during the Cold War , potentially stem unrest and the appeal of Communism.

In Mexico, it also served political ends, separating peasant agriculture based on the ejido and considered one of the victories of the Mexican Revolution, from agribusiness that requires large-scale land ownership, irrigation, specialized seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, machinery, and a low-wage paid labor force. Mexico became the showcase for extending the Green Revolution to other areas of Latin America and beyond, into Africa and Asia. New breeds of maize, beans, and wheat produced bumper crops with proper inputs such as fertilizer and pesticides and careful cultivation.

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Many Mexican farmers who had been dubious about the scientists or hostile to them often a mutual relationship of discord came to see the scientific approach to agriculture as worth adopting. One of the participants in the Mexican experiment was Edwin J. Wellhausen, who summarized the factors leading to its initial success. These include: high yield plants that were disease resistant, adaptable, and able to utilize fertilizers; improved use of soils, adequate fertilizers, and control of weeds and pests; and "a favorable ratio between the cost of fertilizers and other investments with respect to the price of the producer obtained for his produce.

In , one of the breeding lines became a new cultivar , IR8. Annual rice production in the Philippines increased from 3. In , India was on the brink of mass famine. Punjab was selected by the Indian government to be the first site to try the new crops because of its reliable water supply and a history of agricultural success.

India began its own Green Revolution program of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals. India soon adopted IR8 — a semi-dwarf rice variety developed by the International Rice Research Institute IRRI that could produce more grains of rice per plant when grown with certain fertilizers and irrigation. De Datta published his findings that IR8 rice yielded about 5 tons per hectare with no fertilizer, and almost 10 tons per hectare under optimal conditions.

This was 10 times the yield of traditional rice. IR8 was also developed into Semi-dwarf IR In the s, rice yields in India were about two tons per hectare; by the mids, they had risen to six tons per hectare. In , foundation officials proposed a worldwide network of agricultural research centers under a permanent secretariat.

CGIAR has added many research centers throughout the world. This began in the s, and mainly was a result of pressure from donor organizations. Brazil's vast inland cerrado region was regarded as unfit for farming before the s because the soil was too acidic and poor in nutrients, according to Norman Borlaug. However, from the s, vast quantities of lime pulverised chalk or limestone were poured on the soil to reduce acidity.

The effort went on for decades; by the late s, between 14 million and 16 million tonnes of lime were being spread on Brazilian fields each year. The quantity rose to 25 million tonnes in and , equalling around five tonnes of lime per hectare. As a result, Brazil has become the world's second biggest soybean exporter.

Soybeans are also widely used in animal feed, and the large volume of soy produced in Brazil has contributed to Brazil's rise to become the biggest exporter of beef and poultry in the world. There have been numerous attempts to introduce the successful concepts from the Mexican and Indian projects into Africa.


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Reasons cited include widespread corruption, insecurity, a lack of infrastructure, and a general lack of will on the part of the governments. Yet environmental factors, such as the availability of water for irrigation, the high diversity in slope and soil types in one given area are also reasons why the Green Revolution is not so successful in Africa. After a famine in and years of chronic hunger and poverty, in the small African country of Malawi launched the "Agricultural Input Subsidy Program" by which vouchers are given to smallholder farmers to buy subsidized nitrogen fertilizer and maize seeds.

The program has advanced yearly ever since. Various sources claim that the program has been an unusual success, hailing it as a "miracle". The Green Revolution spread technologies that already existed, but had not been widely implemented outside industrialized nations. Two kinds of technologies were used in the Green Revolution and aim at cultivation and breeding area respectively.

The technologies in cultivation are targeted at providing excellent growing conditions, which included modern irrigation projects, pesticides , and synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. The breeding technologies aimed at improving crop varieties developed through the conventional, science-based methods available at the time. These technologies included hybrids , combining modern genetics with selections.

The novel technological development of the Green Revolution was the production of novel wheat cultivars. Agronomists bred cultivars of maize, wheat, and rice that are generally referred to as HYVs or " high-yielding varieties ". HYVs have higher nitrogen-absorbing potential than other varieties.

Journal of Political Ecology

Since cereals that absorbed extra nitrogen would typically lodge, or fall over before harvest, semi-dwarfing genes were bred into their genomes. Norman Borlaug , who is usually recognized as the "Father of the Green Revolution", bred rust-resistant cultivars which have strong and firm stems, preventing them from falling over under extreme weather at high levels of fertilization. These programs successfully led the harvest double in these countries.

Plant scientists figured out several parameters related to the high yield and identified the related genes which control the plant height and tiller number. These were identified as gibberellin biosynthesis genes or cellular signaling component genes. Stem growth in the mutant background is significantly reduced leading to the dwarf phenotype.

Photosynthetic investment in the stem is reduced dramatically as the shorter plants are inherently more stable mechanically. Assimilates become redirected to grain production, amplifying in particular the effect of chemical fertilizers on commercial yield. HYVs significantly outperform traditional varieties in the presence of adequate irrigation, pesticides, and fertilizers. In the absence of these inputs, traditional varieties may outperform HYVs.

Therefore, several authors have challenged the apparent superiority of HYVs not only compared to the traditional varieties alone, but by contrasting the monocultural system associated with HYVs with the polycultural system associated with traditional ones.

THE GREEN REVOLUTION DEBATES – 1970-2007

Cereal production more than doubled in developing nations between the years — While agricultural output increased as a result of the Green Revolution, the energy input to produce a crop has increased faster, [44] so that the ratio of crops produced to energy input has decreased over time. Green Revolution techniques also heavily rely on chemical fertilizers , pesticides , herbicides , and defoliants and rely on machines, which as of rely on or are derived from crude oil , making agriculture increasingly reliant on crude oil extraction.


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  • The effects of the Green Revolution on global food security are difficult to assess because of the complexities involved in food systems. The world population has grown by about five billion [47] since the beginning of the Green Revolution and many believe that, without the Revolution, there would have been greater famine and malnutrition. The production increases fostered by the Green Revolution are often credited with having helped to avoid widespread famine , and for feeding billions of people. There are also claims that the Green Revolution has decreased food security for a large number of people.

    One claim involves the shift of subsistence-oriented cropland to cropland oriented towards production of grain for export or animal feed. For example, the Green Revolution replaced much of the land used for pulses that fed Indian peasants for wheat, which did not make up a large portion of the peasant diet.

    Some criticisms generally involve some variation of the Malthusian principle of population. Such concerns often revolve around the idea that the Green Revolution is unsustainable, [52] and argue that humanity is now in a state of overpopulation or overshoot with regards to the sustainable carrying capacity and ecological demands on the Earth.


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    • Although 36 million people die each year as a direct or indirect result of hunger and poor nutrition, [53] Malthus's more extreme predictions have frequently failed to materialize. In Thomas Malthus made his prediction of impending famine. Malthusian Paul R.

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      Ehrlich , in his book The Population Bomb , said that "India couldn't possibly feed two hundred million more people by " and "Hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs. However, Borlaug was well aware of the implications of population growth. In his Nobel lecture he repeatedly presented improvements in food production within a sober understanding of the context of population.

      If fully implemented, the revolution can provide sufficient food for sustenance during the next three decades. But the frightening power of human reproduction must also be curbed; otherwise the success of the green revolution will be ephemeral only.

      Third World Agriculture, Ecology and Politics

      Most people still fail to comprehend the magnitude and menace of the "Population Monster" Since man is potentially a rational being, however, I am confident that within the next two decades he will recognize the self-destructive course he steers along the road of irresponsible population growth To some modern Western sociologists and writers, increasing food production is not synonymous with increasing food security , and is only part of a larger equation.

      For example, Harvard professor Amartya Sen wrote that large historic famines were not caused by decreases in food supply, but by socioeconomic dynamics and a failure of public action. Some have challenged the value of the increased food production of Green Revolution agriculture. Miguel A. Altieri , a pioneer of agroecology and peasant-advocate , writes that the comparison between traditional systems of agriculture and Green Revolution agriculture has been unfair, because Green Revolution agriculture produces monocultures of cereal grains, while traditional agriculture usually incorporates polycultures.

      These monoculture crops are often used for export, feed for animals, or conversion into biofuel. According to Emile Frison of Bioversity International , the Green Revolution has also led to a change in dietary habits, as fewer people are affected by hunger and die from starvation, but many are affected by malnutrition such as iron or vitamin-A deficiencies.

      The Violence of the Green Revolution

      The strategies developed by the Green Revolution focused on fending off starvation and was very successful in raising overall yields of cereal grains, but did not give sufficient relevance to nutritional quality. High-yield rice HYR , introduced since to poverty-ridden Asian countries, such as the Philippines , was found to have inferior flavor and be more glutinous and less savory than their native varieties. In the Philippines the introduction of heavy pesticides to rice production, in the early part of the Green Revolution, poisoned and killed off fish and weedy green vegetables that traditionally coexisted in rice paddies.

      These were nutritious food sources for many poor Filipino farmers prior to the introduction of pesticides, further impacting the diets of locals.