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Negative Impact of Green Revolution on Traditional Crops Like Millet

The green revolution was a period of significant agricultural growth and modernization in the mid-20th century, which saw the introduction of new technologies, such as high-yielding varieties of crops, irrigation systems & chemical fertilizers. But it also decreased the cultivation of millet which further led to a decline in biodiversity and soil degradation.

Sonali Behera
Green Revolution had a significant impact on millet production in India
Green Revolution had a significant impact on millet production in India

The Green Revolution, which began in the 1960s, brought about significant changes to agriculture in India, including increased production of food grains such as wheat and rice. It focused on increasing food production through the use of modern farming techniques, such as the use of high-yielding variety (HYV) seeds, chemical fertilizers, and irrigation. However, the focus on these "high-yielding" crops led to a decrease in the cultivation of traditional crops like millet.

The Green Revolution had a significant impact on millet production in India. Before the Green Revolution, millets were an important staple food in many regions of India, particularly for marginalized communities such as small farmers and tribal populations of semi-arid regions. The shift towards modern agricultural practices and the promotion of wheat and rice as the primary food crops led to a decline in millet cultivation. This was due to various reasons such as lack of government support, lack of research and development in the millet sector, non-remunerative prices, lack of access to credit and extension services, and a lack of market infrastructure for millets.

The shift away from millet cultivation also led to a decrease in the area under millet cultivation. According to the National Sample Survey Office, the area under millet cultivation in India decreased by 34% between 1970-71 and 2000-01. This decrease in the area under cultivation, combined with the decrease in productivity due to the lack of investment in millet research and development, led to a decrease in millet production.

The decline in millet production also had negative consequences towards the environment. Millets are well-suited to dryland farming and require less water than other crops, making them a crucial component of agricultural systems in water-stressed regions. The shift away from millets towards water-intensive crops like rice and wheat contributed to the over-extraction of groundwater and the degradation of soil health.

Despite this, in recent years there has been a renewed interest in millets and their potential to improve food security and address environmental challenges. The government of India has taken steps to promote millet cultivation and consumption, such as setting up a national millet mission and launching schemes to provide financial assistance for its cultivation. In addition, there has been an increase in the demand for millet from health-conscious consumers and the organic food market.

IYOM 2023

The International Year of Millet is a global initiative organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to raise awareness about the potential of millet as a sustainable crop for food and nutrition security, as well as its potential to adapt to changing climate conditions. The year 2023 has been declared the International Year of Millet by the United Nations General Assembly.

Overall, the green revolution in India had a significant impact on millet production, leading to a decline in the cultivation and use of these traditional crops. However, recent efforts to promote millets have the potential to reverse this trend and bring about positive outcomes for both farmers and the environment.

Conclusion

It's important to mention that Green revolution was a great success in increasing food grain production and reducing India's dependence on food imports, but it also had some negative consequences. The focus on high-yielding varieties of wheat and rice led to a decline in the cultivation of traditional crops such as millet, the over-extraction of groundwater and the degradation of soil health. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in millet as a way to improve food security and address environmental challenges.

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