The Green Revolution and a dark Punjab -Anuj Behal

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published Published on Jul 16, 2020   modified Modified on Jul 18, 2020

-Down to Earth

Punjab has paid a price for food security. The use of pesticides and fertilisers has resulted in a number of health issues for the state’s population

Punjab — known as the ‘Granary of India’ — produces 20 per cent and nine per cent of India’s wheat and rice respectively. At the international level, this represents three per cent of the global production of these crops. The state is responsible for two per cent of the world’s cotton and wheat production and one per cent of the world’s rice production.

This is possibly because of the Green Revolution, a period when Indian agriculture was converted into an industrial system. Modern methods and technology — including high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, tractors, irrigation facilities, pesticides and fertilisers — were adopted.

The Green Revolution was an endeavour initiated by Norman Borlaug in 1970. It led to him winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in developing HYVs of wheat and is often credited with having transformed India from “a begging bowl to a bread basket”.

Punjab is frequently cited as the Green Revolution’s most celebrated success story. In the 1970s, a large dosage of pesticides revolutionised farming ways in India, with the results considered good at the time.

The picture, however, is no longer rosy. The consequences of the Green Revolution have come under constant global scrutiny.

In due course, pests grew immune to pesticides and farmers, in desperation, began pumping out more of these chemicals. Their excessive use not only contaminated the air, soil and the water table, but also exposed plants and humans to the threat of adulterated pesticides.

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Down to Earth, 16 July, 2020,

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