Green Revolution in India

The Green Revolution in India refers to a period of significant agricultural transformation during the 1960s and 1970s. It was a set of initiatives aimed at increasing agricultural productivity through the adoption of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds, improved irrigation techniques, and the widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides. It represented a significant turning point in India’s agricultural history, laying the foundation for modern agricultural practices and contributing to its economic development.

Several key individuals and institutions played significant roles in spearheading the Green Revolution in India. Here are some of the most important ones:

  • Dr. M. S. Swaminathan: Often referred to as the “Father of the Green Revolution in India,” Dr. Swaminathan is a renowned agricultural scientist and geneticist who played a crucial role in introducing high-yielding varieties of seeds and modern agricultural techniques in India. Further, his research and advocacy contributed to the success of the Green Revolution and its widespread adoption across the country.
  • Norman Borlaug: While not directly involved in Indian agriculture, Norman Borlaug, an American agronomist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, was instrumental in developing high-yielding wheat varieties that formed the basis of the Green Revolution worldwide. His work inspired and influenced agricultural scientists and policymakers in India, leading to the adoption of similar technologies and practices.
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR): it is the apex body for coordinating agricultural research and education in India. ICAR played a central role in supporting research and development initiatives related to the Green Revolution in India. Through its network of agricultural universities, research institutes, and extension services, ICAR facilitated the dissemination of new technologies and knowledge to farmers across the country.

This website contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Need for Green Revolution in India
  • Population Growth: India experienced rapid population growth in the post-independence period, leading to increased pressure on agricultural land and resources. Hence, the existing agricultural practices were not sufficient to meet the growing food demands of the population.
  • Food Shortages: Prior to the Green Revolution, India faced recurrent food shortages and famines, resulting in widespread hunger and malnutrition. The inadequacy of traditional farming methods and low agricultural productivity exacerbated these food shortages, thus, highlighting the urgent need for technological interventions to increase food production.
  • Dependency on Food Imports: India was heavily dependent on food imports to meet its domestic food requirements. Therefore, this dependence on external sources for food supplies left the country vulnerable to fluctuations in global food markets and posed significant economic challenges.
  • Stagnant Agricultural Productivity: Traditional farming methods in India were characterized by low productivity, inefficient use of inputs, and susceptibility to environmental factors such as droughts and pests. As a result, there was a need to modernize agriculture and adopt scientific techniques to enhance productivity and improve livelihoods for farmers.
  • Poverty and Rural Development: Agriculture was the primary source of livelihood for a large proportion of India’s population, especially in rural areas. However, low agricultural productivity contributed to rural poverty and underdevelopment, necessitating interventions to stimulate economic growth and improve living standards in rural communities.
  • Strategic Considerations: Ensuring food security was also a strategic priority for India’s national security and stability. Therefore, the ability to produce sufficient food domestically was seen as crucial for maintaining social cohesion, political stability, and economic resilience in the face of internal and external challenges.

The Green Revolution in India was initiated to address the needs stated above and achieve sustainable economic development. Its key objectives were:

Increase Agricultural Productivity

One of the main goals of the Green Revolution was to increase agricultural productivity and output to meet the growing food demands of India’s rapidly expanding population. By introducing high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of seeds and modern agricultural techniques, the Green Revolution aimed to boost crop yields and improve food security.

Achieve Food Self-Sufficiency

India faced recurring food shortages and dependence on food imports in the years leading up to the Green Revolution. A primary objective was to achieve food self-sufficiency by increasing domestic food production to meet the country’s dietary needs. This goal was particularly important for staple crops like wheat and rice, which were targeted for productivity improvements.

Alleviate Poverty and Hunger

By increasing agricultural productivity and ensuring a steady food supply, the Green Revolution aimed to alleviate poverty and hunger in rural areas. By generating employment opportunities in agriculture and increasing farmers’ incomes, it sought to improve living standards and reduce food insecurity among vulnerable populations.

Rural Development

The Green Revolution was also intended to promote rural development by stimulating economic growth in rural areas and reducing disparities between urban and rural regions. By investing in agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation systems and rural electrification, it aimed to modernize rural agriculture and improve the overall quality of life in rural communities.

Stabilize Agricultural Prices

Another objective of the Green Revolution was to stabilize agricultural prices and reduce fluctuations in food prices. By increasing agricultural productivity and reducing supply shortages, it aimed to create a more stable and predictable market for agricultural commodities, benefiting both farmers and consumers.

Promote Technological Innovation

The Green Revolution sought to promote technological innovation and scientific research in agriculture to develop new crop varieties, improve agricultural practices, and enhance the efficiency of resource use. This objective was achieved through collaboration between agricultural scientists, research institutions, and government agencies.

Increase in Food Production After Green Revolution in India

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): India’s total food grain production was around 82 million metric tons.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): By the 1990s, India’s total food grain production increased to approximately 176 million metric tons.

Rise in Rice Production

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): India’s rice production was about 35 million metric tons.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Rice production surged to around 89 million metric tons.

Increase in Wheat Production

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Wheat production in India stood at approximately 11 million metric tons.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Wheat production rose to about 55 million metric tons.

Yield Improvements

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Average wheat yields were around 800 kilograms per hectare.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Wheat yields increased significantly to approximately 2,500 kilograms per hectare.

Reduction in Import Dependency

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): India depended heavily on food imports to meet its domestic needs.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): India achieved self-sufficiency in food production and significantly reduced its reliance on food imports.

Increase in Rural Employment

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Agriculture was the primary source of employment for over 70% of India’s workforce.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): While still significant, the share of rural employment in agriculture decreased due to productivity gains, signalling rural diversification.

Expansion of Irrigation Coverage with Green Revolution in India

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Irrigation coverage in India was limited, with many agricultural regions relying solely on rainfall.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): The Green Revolution facilitated the expansion of irrigation infrastructure, increasing the irrigated area and reducing dependence on erratic rainfall.

Improvement in Nutrition Levels

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Malnutrition and food insecurity were widespread issues, particularly in rural areas.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Improved food availability and access contributed to a reduction in malnutrition levels and enhanced nutritional outcomes, especially among vulnerable populations.

Reduction in Poverty Rates

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Poverty rates were high, with a significant proportion of the population living below the poverty line.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): While poverty persisted, especially in rural areas, the Green Revolution played a role in lifting millions out of poverty through increased agricultural productivity and rural development initiatives.


  • Khush, G. S. (2001). Green revolution: the way forward. Nature Reviews Genetics, 2(10), 815-822.
  • Pingali, P. L. (2012). Green Revolution: Impacts, limits, and the path ahead. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(31), 12302–12308.
  • Hazell, P. B. R. (2009). Lessons from the Green Revolution. American Journal of Agricultural Economics.
  • Government of India, Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. (2020). National Accounts Statistics.
  • Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. (2021). Agricultural Statistics at a Glance.
  • Sen, A. (1981). Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford University Press.
  • Government of India, Ministry of Rural Development. (2021). Poverty Estimates.

Environmental Degradation Due to Green Revolution in India

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): India’s agricultural practices were relatively sustainable, with minimal use of chemical inputs.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Intensive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides led to soil degradation, water pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

Water Depletion

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Groundwater levels were relatively stable, and aquifers were replenished naturally.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Increased irrigation demand led to overexploitation of groundwater resources, causing depletion of aquifers and water scarcity in some regions.

Loss of Agrobiodiversity

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Traditional crop varieties and agricultural practices promoted agrobiodiversity.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): The focus on high-yielding varieties led to the displacement of traditional crop varieties, resulting in the loss of agrobiodiversity and genetic erosion.

Income Inequality

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Income disparities existed but were less pronounced in rural areas.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): The benefits of the Green Revolution were unevenly distributed, leading to widening income disparities between wealthy and poor farmers.

Dependency on External Inputs

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Farming relied on traditional methods and inputs available locally.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Farmers became dependent on external inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides, making them vulnerable to market fluctuations and increasing production costs.

Health Hazards

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Health risks associated with agriculture were relatively low.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): Exposure to chemical pesticides and fertilizers led to health hazards among farmers and rural communities, including pesticide poisoning and respiratory illnesses.

Loss of Traditional Knowledge due to Green Revolution in India

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Indigenous agricultural knowledge and practices were prevalent.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): The adoption of modern agricultural technologies led to the erosion of traditional knowledge systems and cultural practices associated with farming.

Food Quality Concerns

Pre-Green Revolution (1960s): Food was produced using organic and traditional methods.

Post-Green Revolution (1990s): The use of chemical inputs raised concerns about food safety and quality, including pesticide residues and nutrient deficiencies.


  • Shiva, V. (1993). Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology. Zed Books.
  • Gadgil, M., & Berkes, F. (1991). Traditional Resource Management Systems.
  • Kesavachandran, C. N., Fareed, M., Pathak, M. K., & Bihari, V. (2009). Health risks of employees working in pesticide retail shops: An exploratory study. Indian Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
  • Pingali, P. L. (2012). Green Revolution: Impacts, limits, and the path ahead. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Shah, T. (2009). Taming the Anarchy: Groundwater Governance in South Asia. Resources for the Future.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply