Green revolution has changed the world. Most people consider that it has changed the world for the better while some disagree. There would always be contrarian views on something that has had a profound and lingering impact on the whole planet. It may be difficult to imagine what kind of a world it would be today had green revolution not happened.
Pros of the Green Revolution
1. Development of Massive Agricultural Operations
Green revolution has made massive scale agricultural operations possible. If you look at the world before green revolution, only those crops were grown on a massive scale that could be cultivated naturally, without much manual intervention. Most crops required extensive manual intervention and thus managing massive scale farms was not that easy. Green revolution identified the ways to make this possible. Today, most crops are grown on an industrial scale, even by small farmers.
2. Pest Resistant Crops
Perhaps the best gift of green revolution is the resistance of crops and plants to pests. Developing economies in the late 1960s which were still adapting to technology and did not have a very high literacy rate struggled with their farming practices. Green revolution changed that. Not only did this lead to more produce but also healthier produce.
3. Automated Process to Farming
Green revolution makes farming more automated and predictable. There is more dependence on resources that are under human control than nature and other external factors. From studying the health of the seeds to the health of the soil, green revolution manages to do most of the tricky work in the boardroom instead of running year long trials and then failing with a massive loss to the farmers.
4. No Need to Fallow the Land
Green revolution made replanting of the same crops without fallowing the land. This was another significant achievement of the inculcation of knowledge and technology in agriculture. Fallowing land used to cost farmers dearly. There are some crops that still need fallowing but the more money making crops don’t need so.
5. Impacted Everywhere
Green revolution made agriculture possible almost everywhere. You still cannot grow paddy on a beach or potatoes on a plateau but you can use most types of terrain or land. One doesn’t have to be at the most fertile banks of the most alluvium rich river in the country to be able to start farming. Agriculture became easier with green revolution.
6. Make Farming a Profitable Industry
Finally, green revolution made farming a profitable business. Globally, farmers were mostly poor unless one family had large tracts of land and had numerous farms growing multiple crops. With green revolution, there are rich farmers today.
Cons of the Green Revolution
Green revolution has its shortcomings, one of which is the practice of mono-culturing. It demands large tracts of land which is not always available, the agricultural practices depend on large volumes of water and it is fertilizer intensive.
1. Compromises Crop Health
There have been some cases where erstwhile unknown ailments have plagued the health of different types of crops. It is always speculated that some new breed of pests or weeds can develop and they may have a resistance to the pesticides used right now.
2. Soil Varies by Location
A major shortcoming or disadvantage of green revolution is that it doesn’t take into account the type of soil or its suitability for a certain type of crop. It just considers the area of the land and does what’s necessary for the yearly cultivation of a crop. The following year requires fresh procurement of seeds and nothing is done to ensure that the soil retains its fertility or gets replenished. The use of chemicals and a plethora of other methods, which aren’t natural and cannot be called so, are employed to facilitate the cultivation.
3. Harms The Environment
Green revolution is inaptly named because it isn’t exactly a green initiative. It contributes to global warming and pollution.
Green revolution has lead to a sterner focus on cash crops. Innumerable farmers are trying to grow cash crops and that is leading to a shortage of staple food crops.
What Happened to the Green Revolution?
Today, after more than half a century later, green revolution isn’t a term that’s used often. Most countries in the world have already got acquainted with the practice and the concept is no longer innovative. It has become embedded as a natural practice or norm. Most people alive were born after green revolution had been endorsed by the whole world and was already at play.
Green revolution has increased the world’s agricultural production. The global agricultural output today compared to that of 1940 or even 1950 paint a dramatically contrasting picture. But green revolution is not without its share of problems. Some of these problems were preempted by critics, way back in late 1960s, while some problems have emerged over time. As some countries get more aggressive with green revolution techniques and genetically modified crops start to flood more farms, as people get conscious of their health and many attempt to move to organic farming, it is time to look at the green revolution pros and cons.