2.3.1 The Process of the Green Revolution

The increased production in agriculture as a result of the utilization of new varieties with a high yield potential in conjunction with more water, fertilizers, and pesticides is called the Green Revolution. The new varieties are not of themselves high yielding, but rather, genetically, they are a yield potential which can only develop if sufficient water and plant nutrients are available. If these are lacking, the yields are sometimes lower than those of local varieties. As is often the case as far as high bred varieties are concerned, they are susceptible to diseases and require careful plant protection measures, Besides, on account of their low resistance and rapid degeneration, the varieties must be replaced by newly bred varieties after only a few years.

When the new seeds are grown with sufficient water, fertilizers, and pesticides, the increases in the yields are astonishingly high. Many a farmer has, from one year to the next, harvested three times as large a wheat yield from the same area using the new seeds. This obvious increase in the yield caused the new varieties to be rapidly adopted. During the first years, the shortage of seed, and not a lack of readiness to utilize it, constituted a bottleneck when the new varieties were introduced.

All the same, one should be conscious of the narrow limits of this technological change that is misleadingly called a "revolution." It is not a general breakthrough in agricultural production. The changes apply primarily to the cultivation of wheat and rice, whereas the other cereals are hardly affected. Thus, cereals from the arid regions as well as cotton, pulses, and oil plants are more or less excluded.

As far as rice is concerned, the problems are far more difficult. The new rice varieties require not only that irrigation be available, but also make great demands on the quality of irrigation. The varieties suffer damage from too much as well as too little water. Thus, while controlled irrigation is necessary, frequently an irrigation system is used that consists of rain water overflooding the upper terraces and flowing down to the lower terraces so that the ammuat of water cannot be controlled. In such cases, it is a definite necessity to improve the irrigation systems before the new varieties can be successfully cultivated.

Since irrigation is an indispensable factor for this new technology, regions which depend on rainfall are implicitly excluded from partaking in these changes. But in India and in Pakistan, only about one third of the arable land is irrigated. This results in tremendous regional differences. The Green Revolution is restricted to irrigated regions and, therefore, to regions which have always produced better yields and thus belonged to the wealthier states. The regional differences became, therefore, even more pronounced.

Similar differences in participation are found according to farm size. Better information, a greater capacity to take risks, and readiness to adopt innovations explain why the large farms adopted the innovation at an early stage, In addition, they had the advantage of obtaining high subsidies during the first years and better prices for seed production. Small farms followed later with some hesitance. In some cases, tenants were forbidden to use the new seed. The more delayed adoption by the small farms can also be explained partly by the initially poor baking quality when the technology which existed in the villages was used and by its poorer taste.

Even after the initial phase, the large farms were more advantaged than the small ones. There is no doubt that the new technology can be split up. Seed, fertilizers, water and pesticides can be used on small as well as on large areas. They are therefore neutral as far as farm size is concerned. However, this is no longer true in the case of tractors and pumps. In trying to improve the new opportunities by utilizing machines, the large farms had, therefore, advantages. However, the different farm inputs are still more important. In this aspect, the large farms have decisive advantages. They are better informed, have better transport facilities, and more credit, and, when capital goods are scarce,they are frequently more likely to be supplied on a preferential basis.

The new technology utilizes to a greater extent purchased inputs, i.e., that are not produced on the farm. Thus, the interdependence with the market, capital expenditure, and thus risk are increased, especially for inexperienced farmers. Formerly,crop failures could be overcome by tightening ones belt', but this no longer helps if one has considerable debts to be paid to the farm input suppliers. But precisely the risk ensuing from climatic fluctuations cannot be eliminated. Soon, there were crop failures because the farmers had not learned how to react promptly to infestation with disease. For those who were in a better economic position, the integration in the market economy and simultaneous implementation of the technological innovation meant new possibilities of action. For the economically weak, the path leading to market integration often led to new dependences.

Likewise, under the aspect of the overall economy, the Green Revolution has not brought advantages alone. It is true that the yield increases in the two countries improved the supply of foodstuffs for a few years. This was more lasting in India because the necessary research stations were built to produce the constantly required new varieties. Today, Pakistan is still or again dependent on cereal imports.

Moreover, the intensified utilization of purchased inputs has not made production less expensive and has led to considerable price increases. The utilization of inputs previously unknown to the farmers can easily damage the environment. Quite often, pesticides and herbicides are applied in a wrong concentration. But increased irrigation also has consequences.The ground water level is raised and the risk of salinization is increased. Many regions have irrigation but insufficient drainage. In some regions, the water reserves also decrease.The overwhelming production increases also distracted from several alternatives. In countries where 20-30% of the harvest is lost, it would surely be less expensive to reduce the losses than to increase production at high costs, especially when increasing oil prices bring about a considerable rise in the cost of inputs.

It must also be mentioned that the Green Revolution meant increased production at drastically rising social costs. The society subsidizes seeds, finances research stations, invests in fertilizer factories and irrigation systems, builds roads, and organizes farm systems. Since part of the higher yields can be attributed to these expences incurred by the society, and not to the efforts of the individual farmers, some of the profits should be skimmed off and go to the government for further economic development. But this is not taking place due to the prevailing power structure.

The Green Revolution is therefore a mixed blessing. It brought about decisive advances in agricultural production, but also serious economic and social problems. It is important to realize that these problems are not actually the consequences of the new technologies per se. They are the result of the prevailing economic and social conditions which only become more evident. Therefore, it cannot be a matter of putting a stop to new technology but, at the most, to keep it within bounds. It is important to take measures to solve the prevailing problems, especially the deficiencies in the agrarian structure so that new technologies no longer lead to negative consequences. The problem of the man-land relations following the Green Revolution becomes even more crucial. As will be shown in the following, the prospects in that respect have sooner diminished. This becomes especially evident if the implications of the agrarian changes for various strata of the rural population are more thoroughly examined