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Green Revolution 2.0
By Ayush Prasad

July 21, 2011

Agriculture has been practiced in India since last 3500 years. Due to variation in climate, soil type and available moisture; variety of crops can be grown here. Since large areas of land are under agriculture, India is a major producer of almost all kinds of crops, but the yield per Hecate is amongst the lowest in the world.

During the first Green Revolution in 1966-75, irrigation facilities were extended to large areas, farmers were provided high-yielding variety of seeds, and agriculture was supplemented with fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. These efforts led to a spike in agriculture production and made India self sufficient in food grains.

The Government established several Agriculture Universities and Research Institution to train and support Indian Farmers. The farmers have benefitted from subsidies, Minimum Support Price for their produce and several freebies like Loan Waiver, Low Interest Finance, Free Electricity and Water.

Farmers indiscriminately used fertilizers to extract more from their crops, new bore-wells were dug and the existing ones went deeper. Today, the most fertile lands of the country are turning bare and most of North Indian wells would run dry by 2030. Agriculture in India, employs over 60% of the Indian workforce, yet contributes only 17% to our GDP. Since the economy is growing at around 8% and Agriculture is growing by only 3%, the contribution from this sector is expected to fall.

Most of the Agriculture Research Institutions have come up with only micro incremental innovations, which have not addressed and solved problems for Agriculture. These institutions have been directed at the technical side of the problem and there is no effort at the policy and business side of Agriculture.

India globalised and liberalized its economy in 1991 and since then the rate of growth in India has doubled and we are the next emerging super-power. But Agricultural Sector remains the clutches of Socialism and the government has not allowed it to grow to its potential.

NREGA and the rapidly growing Indian Middle Class has increased the consumption of the food, while the supply has remained almost constant and farmers have not been able to benefit much from this growth due to Socialist Model. I have the following 7 Suggestions to bring about Green Revolution 2.0

Develop Core Infrastructure

The development of infrastructure has boosted agriculture in the past and there are several examples to prove it. Bihar is blessed to have several small streams which are tributaries to Ganges. There streams provide natural irrigation, but deny farmers access to market for their produce. The Government established a special department to build small bridges over these streams and also village roads. Due to better access to market, the growth rate in Agriculture and GDP was over 10%.

Rains in India are seasonal and to grow more than one crop a year, irrigation facilities are required. The strife in Andhra Pradesh is over the difference in prosperity coastal Andhra and Telangana. This difference is only because of irrigation facilities. Bore-well based irrigation, extracts water from ancient reservoirs without any effort to refill them. This is unsustainable and should be discouraged. Instead, India should work on phase wise interlinking of rivers.

Conservation of available resources should also be encouraged. The reservoir capacity in Dams has reduced due to silting. De-silting should be carried out. The alluvial soil present there is extremely fertile and could be provided to the farmers, whose fertility has reduced.

Land Use Pattern

There are a lot of discussions and politics over the acquisition of land. The world population is expected to grow by 1 billion people in the next 15 years, most of this growth would occur in India, making it the most populous country in the world. With stagnation in yield per hectare, falling water levels and fertility, should we reduce the fertile land available for agriculture?

Land has become a source for massive corruption across in India and it happens because of the way land is classified. Only farmers can acquire agricultural land and since the purchasing power is low, the price of land is low. But as soon as the Agricultural Land gets converted into Non Agricultural Land, the value increased by 1000%. This conversion is nothing but a small noting on the file. Farmers hence lose out on the value of the land, and this is socialism and a form of License Raj, where the States dictates what a person can do with his land.

I believe that land should be classified into two categories- Ecological Land and General Land. The General Land should be rated on two factors- Fertility and Moisture. Dry and Unfertile Land should be industrialized.

The land to the West of Bangalore City (Mandya District) is well irrigated and can produce 2-3 crops every-year. The current policy is to encourage industrialization of every district. Hence, the fertile lands would have to be used for Industries. But to the east of the city, there is rocky dry land extending from Kolar to the coast. But since the region belongs to another state, the Government does not encourage industries linked to Bangalore to flourish there. States are just administrative units and should not take a position of a sub-nation.

Utilization of land is another concern. It is estimated that 20% of the land is wasted in agriculture. Even when land is acquired for SEZ or Industries, about 40% more land than required is acquired. Land would determine the future of India and efficient utilization of land is important.

Agriculture as an Industry

Any nation or industry grows due to fresh talent, ideas and investment. Agricultural Sector in India has closed its door and is firmly in the grip of Government. It is subject to Government’s whims and fancies. Populism has destroyed its competitiveness. The Government has prevented growth and enterprise in the sector. There are no “Agricultural Companies”. There are only large bunch of small producers, who are incapable of investing in large improvements.

The Corporative Society Movement got high jacked by politics. It is an example of how democracy can sometimes lead to inefficiency, lethargy and corruption. The system was again inward looking and did not encourage new energy and talent. Agriculture is the only Primary Sector of the Economy devoid of any Enterprise.

The Government should allow people to establish Agricultural Companies. Investment in these companies can come from farmers, who could pledge their hand holdings, which would be valued as land and not categorized land. Investors could invest money as well. These should be publically traded companies.

Professional Managers would be employed to run these companies and their business acumen would build these companies as brands. They would soon work on forward chain integration; the middlemen in farm to market would be eliminated. They would also be in position to develop private infrastructure, including storage capabilities, transport etc. They would introduce better practices, innovation and bring about operational efficiency.

The farmers would be in a stronger position. Their landholdings would not be acquired, instead would be part of a larger unit. The farmer would earn dividends and salary. He would get benefits like pension, leaves and healthcare. Crop Failure would not affect him as much, as companies would operate across different regions. Since the companies would establish brands and create infrastructure, the rise in value of the farmers’ investment would be more than what it would be for the land. Additional rural employment would be created.

The competitiveness amongst companies would result in farmers working for higher yield, better quality of produce and lower prices. The consumers would benefit.

The Government would have to provide tax holidays to these companies for a few years. The Government could reduce its subsidies. The pressure on the Government to acquire, store and transport food grains would ease. After ten years, the Government can earn taxes from these companies.

Distributed Factories

The concept of Factories developed in the Industrial Revolution, developed in large urban centers where large number of worked using large machines. The concept of Special Economic Zones further enhanced this model. But modern industries do not need concentration of resources at a common place.

Restaurants like Mc Donald’s have shown that standardization is possible around the world. Similarly factories could be established which several mini/micro production facilities. A village cannot sustain a large factory or a unit, but it can sustain a small unit. This could be established in textile, food processing, art/craft etc. The primary produce of agriculture should have an enhanced value, as it steps out of the village.
Alternate Consumption Sources

The rotting of food grains in go-downs and over production of some agricultural commodities at certain times causes a glut and the prices crash. Agriculture sourced energy is the best form of Renewable Energy. It would be easiest to implement with the existing systems.

A large chunk of India’s foreign exchange is from Oil. It is a drain on our foreign exchange, Government spends a large amount of taxes on subsidies, oil prices cause inflation and even slow down economic growth. As the reserves reduce and it becomes more expensive to extract oil, prices would increase.

Brazil became energy independent from expensive foreign oil by investing on sugarcane based ethanol. In India is amongst the largest producers of sugarcane, wheat and jerboa, all of which can be converted to Ethanol. India also has one of the largest populations of cattle and can be large source of Natural Gas, as Bio Gas contains 50-60% Natural Gas.

Innovation and Advancement

Yield per Hecate in India had stagnated and is amongst the lowest in the world. Innovation should focus on bringing larger improvements in agriculture. Due to climate change, we face a real challenge, to manage the extremities of agriculture. The policy improvements would lead to an improvement of around 30%, but a real improvement would come from technology and its implementation. Enterprise in agriculture would ensure that the technology is implemented.

Agriculture is the most critical sector of the economy. The growth and well being of our country is dependent on it. The Time Magazine says, it is the best time to be a farmer, but it does not really apply to Indian Farmer. Reforms in the agriculture sector, would encourage new talent, investment, technology and energy into the sector, creating additional sources of income.


Ayush Prasad - Archives:

Comments on this article
Dinesh Mejar, MangaloreTuesday, August 23, 2011
Dear Sir,

Could you please get in touch with Mr Jacob's email address, I am also interested in starting a company. I would like to talk to jacob about the same.

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Jacob, BangaloreFriday, August 05, 2011
Hi Ayush,

Its a great article from good thinking. Can we do something about this? I always long to be in farming, leave the IT career and move to nature. But where is the land near Bangalore? All are very expensive, rad tape and bribe keeps me away from getting a piece of agricultural land. Wish if any one could offer some advice, but for a start we could form an online forum (may be on linkedin), yes why not for farmers/agricultualists? Lack of resources can be substituted by machines through forming a cooperative society or likewise. Anyone?
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ashenoy, mangloorFriday, July 22, 2011
Agriculture is the bread basket for Indians/humans. Office/technical jobs do not provide food if food is grown. So the argument that non agricultural income provides better well being is true only of food is available. So if food is not grown there is no well being. period.

So Indians wheter small /or big farm people must continue to farm the land atleast to provide daily consumtion if not producing income ONe should not depend on government susidy rather government must provide land for agriculure leased or otherwise.
Mhatma's phylosophy was Agrigulture provides food but industrialisation can not provide food if there is no agriculture.
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Max & Jessie Rasquinha, Mangalore, Houston/DallasFriday, July 22, 2011
Thank you, Mr.Ayuush Prasad for your beautifully detailed article on Green Revolution in India. The civilization of mankind is based on agriculture. India's population in 1947 at the time of Independance was just over 500 million people which has now exceeded more than 1.2 billion. India should be proud of the self-sufficiency in food supplies achieved eversince - thanks to the innovative ideas gained added with hard work by the farming community. India's focus on improved agri methods as well as storage and distribution of agri products must also continue, added with increased incentive for the farmers to grow more and earn more.

In spite of the fact that more and more food supplies are needed, India's priorities are also changing due to increased focus on industrialisation where more and more educated population is placing their emphasis on urbanization and growing career prospects.

The government therefore should try and provide greater incentives for the farmers with subsidies thru various rural developments including better power facilities, improved irrigation schemes and several other amenities including health and educational services.

Rural India is the best gift that India has secretely maintained thru effective Punchayat Raj system. Basic educational facility must continue to prevail in all villages so that farmers are satisfied that their children go to school and earn the gift of literacy for future hope of survival and progress.
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louis, UdupiFriday, July 22, 2011
I am of theopinion share by Tony. We did have a large agricultural land holding some years back. When I was doing and completing schooling it was a sizeable farm where we had enough rice, pulses and vegetabes to consum,e and to support the family by selling the produce in the local market.

The situation now is that the ground water has run dry farm size has been reduced due to division of land and it is ecomomically not viable to continue farming. there is mostly one crop and 2nd and 3rd crop of rice and pulses is done only in 1/10 of the land. so obviously it is just enough for family consumption. it does not generate any income whatso ever.

so agriculture is just a passive activity that does not amount to income generation. my brother who had to stay back as did my father when in his time does not have active ncome. it is absolutely uneconomical to carry on farming in India with the high cost of labour and low yield. It can be said that the agriculture and farming is done to just carry on the legacy of farming.... it does not make sense to carry on farming on and economic scale.

GOvernment support on agrculture is non existant. I have a strong urge to be in the nature and doing farming but it just does not make any economic sense to venture into any sort of farming in India. The departments of the government from village panchayath, district, state and centre are only interested in making money at the cost of the farmer in the name of the farmer pocketing millions...
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Tony, Mangalore/SydneyFriday, July 22, 2011
Good article,at least from my point of view,for,I belonged to a farming family, and was involved in farming during my growing up years till about 20, way back. Except for a few states like Haryana, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, where the size of farms are large and farming can be carried out on a scientific basis with the help of modern equipments like Tractors and Tillers, the majority of the farms are very small and in uneven settings, where it has to be done manually in the traditional way, and with the present shortage of labour and demand for higher wages,(and also because of the inadequate pricing of the produce), farming, especially the rice cultivation, is economically not viable, and so, more and more people have been discarding the farming and moving to the city in search of other employment.

Even in our particular case, though my parents had a large farm, we, the family of 12, simply could not sustain ourselves and earn a comfortable living, so much so, the 8 of us had to leave home to find a means of living elsewhere, thus leaving only the 2 siblings to carry on with the farming. If economically compared today, we the family members who moved away for jobs elsewhere, are doing much better than our two siblings who got stuck to the farming. So, what I am saying is that farming is lot of hard work, where the returns are low compared to the efforts that one puts in. So, I don`t see much future for farming in India unless the Govt.comes in a big way to help farmers.
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Pankaj Bhushan, PatnaThursday, July 21, 2011
There is a need to change the outlook towards agriculture to prevent a Punjab-like disaster in Bihar, said deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi http://www.telegraphindia.com/1110709/jsp/bihar/story_14213933.jsp

Please check this link. Thanks. Pankaj
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RUBEN, MANGALOREThursday, July 21, 2011
Dear Ayush,
this article sums up eloquently and logically what India will need to do to have real progress with our poor masses who are mostly in the villages. I do hope some important minister/bureaucrat will read your article and try to implement some of your suggestions. I wish you a central minister or an important post in the planning commission in your future. keep writing your enlightened views. i enjoy reading them
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A.SHETTY, MANGALORE, KSAThursday, July 21, 2011
A very nice and innvotive article. The idea of agriculture thr a company is very good. But who will support this idea. Our honourable Central Minister for Agriculture was not interested in distibuting the stored agricultural products bought on subsidised prices. Still rotting in unsafe and central warehouses.
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Joe Britto, Nakre/BangaloreThursday, July 21, 2011
Development in Indian Agriculture cannot be collectively done or by joint stock farming .The focus has to be on the individual farmer who alone can achieve the seemingly impossible task. Increasing yields and productivity to an extent is possible by increasing the area under irrigation and water efficiency. Watershed programmes, precision farming, sustainable farming , organic farming and holistic approach are some of the options. The long term Agriculture plan has to give prominence to Women empowerment, child nutrition and home nutrition. Investments in developing infrastructure like railheads, roads, power, warehouses, processing, grading, packing and post harvest technology.

India's big city malls catering to the palates of well-off Indians, an average family in the country's rural areas has less to eat today than it had six years ago.
"The average rural family today is eating nearly 100 grams less of foodgrains than six or seven years ago and the average per capita availability of food grains has declined sharply. In 1991, when reforms began, availability of food per person was 510 grams today it has fallen to 437 grams”.
The Agrarian Crisis, Farm Suicides and the Wages of Inequality have been growing faster in the past 15 years in India than at any time since the 19th century.
"When people of our class are eating foods like we never had in our lives before, India's agriculture sector is seemingly in the midst of a collapse.”

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Louis D'Souza, Udupi/KuwaitThursday, July 21, 2011
Good work. Mr. Ayush Prasad, nice Article, very much suprised to read it. Keep it up.

The subsidies govt gives is for the hyped prices. For eg. One Power Tillers actual cost is Rs.85,000 subsidi from govt is Rs.50,000. Govt pays to the dealer 1,25,000. To get subsidi one need to spend 5000 as bribes, better buy one for Rs.85,000. After subsidi of 10,000 bal 40,000 goes to officials & ministers. Its only a show nothing else. Farmer gets only 5000.
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Raj, BangaloreThursday, July 21, 2011
Stop Export of Most of Valuable food items from india will be prosperous...eg: India exports Annually worth Rupees 12000 crores for rich NRIs living abroad...just for the sake of foreign exchange and to appease the foreigners....if this is banned then rice falling below the category of Basmati prices will crash then poor and aam admi can buy food products at affordable prices....
as the Economic theory says...
If production is more and demand is less then prices are less and if production is less and demand is more prices are more....
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