The story of the green revolution is an amazing book written in tamil. I was completely shocked by the true facts behind the successes claimed by the proponents of the green revolution in India. The book categorically one by one breaks the entire myth surrounding the success of the green revolution .
The book starts of with discussing the strengths of the traditional Indian agriculture. The author quotes ample evidence of how the British scientists were floored by the superior knowledge of our farmers and the farming techniques employed by us. Many of the scientists who came here to revolutionise Indian agriculture have noted in their reports that there is nothing that we need to teach the Indian farmers. They were far superior to what we have achieved in European Farming.
It is worth noting that many of the modern European findings in agriculture which were slowly being accepted in London during the end of nineteenth century was already in practice for many centuries in India.
Consider this fact, modern science understands the importance of growing leguminous crops to increase the nitrogen content of soil as a natural way to replenish the soil. This was already well in practice. Most of our traditional farming was mixed in nature , In a single piece of land we have been growing a mix of crops from eternity. The advantages is that while we grow a single crop there is a real danger of pest infection , but by growing a mix of crops the chances of pest infection is controlled naturally. This is how trees grow and sustain themselves naturally in forests . As with any civilisation which has been involved in farming we have learnt a lot of things through experience. This knowledge was transferred through generations in language which was alien to modern science.
We now understand the perils of modern agriculture much better than anytime in the past.We now understand the problems of single cropping, high pesticide usage etc . But our traditional farming was much more advanced and had an integral approach that modern science lacks.
Modern science compartmentalises knowledge , so we tend to look into individual entities and don’t see the overall chain of operations. For example soil that we see contains millions of insects , bacteria which contribute and help in replenishing the soil fertility. But the usage of insecticides and pesticides kill these microscopic organisms also thus adversely affecting the soil ecosystem. For modern science lacks this perspective, soil is just not a thing it is a ecosystem with multiple links which humans may not fully understand.
Green revolution suffered from this lacunae that it inherited from modern science. It destroyed our traditional seed variety , killed our soil fertility. The foreign seeds needed more amount of irrigation which resulted in the construction of huge dams. Now the whole world seems to have understood the ecological ill effects of these dams. The increase in the food produce was not so great when compared with the resources we have to spend. Our traditional seeds had high yielding variety, our government lacked the will to pursue research in developing native seeds. Much of this was controlled by US companies interfering in administrative decisions of the government. Funding to research to develop native varieties were stopped. People were fooled by campaign , grafts and so on.
After 50 odd years of green revolution our farmers still depend on excessive subsidies to buy seeds , pesticides , huge tractors etc.
Our agriculture will right away collapse if the subsidies are removed. From a world leader in farming we have become a nation which forces the farmers to suicide.
The book is depressing and thoughtful read .