Let us make in-depth study of the role of technology in promoting agriculture development of a country.
The days of modem technology can be traced to the industrial revolution that increased industrial productivity manifold in some European countries.
Modem technology was also introduced in the field of agriculture in these countries. Since then, with the advancement of knowledge, new technologies are being introduced across the globe rather regularly.
Unfortunately, poor LDCs fail to grow like the developed countries. They lagged far behind the developed countries in terms of technology used in both agriculture and industries. This caused low productivity in agriculture and industry.
Before the 1970s, Indian agricultural output did not rise much to meet the country’s needs. Part of the increase in agricultural production could be attributed to increase in the sown area and to a slightly greater degree to increase in productivity. The mid-1960s was a disaster as far as India’s agricultural sector was concerned. The country witnessed a massive shortfall in agricultural output when the vast number of people faced the twin blows of hunger and malnutrition. This then demanded innovative effort on a massive scale.
Repeated calls for action encouraged the Rock-feller and Ford Foundations to take the lead in creating an international agricultural research programme so that new technologies appropriate to the conditions of the developing countries could be adapted. Work started with the research on rice and wheat. The breeding of improved rice and wheat varieties in conjunction with the greater use of fertilisers, irrigation, ‘miracle’ seeds, pesticides, etc., dramatically increased output of these food crops. These were described as the ‘green revolution’ by the USAID administrator, W. S. Gaud.
The green revolution comprises a package of modem inputs—irrigation, improved seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. In other words, the green revolution is driven by the technology revolution— seed-fertiliser-water technology or modem technology. As a result of the application of this green revolution technology, Asia witnessed a boom in production and yield. For instance wheat yields increased by 4.1 .p.c. p.a. and rice yields by 2.5 p.c. p.a. between 1967 and 1982.
It is said that Indian agriculture became more capital-intensive with the green revolution. Commenting on its success, Peter B. R. Hazell says: “Higher yields and profitability also led farmers to increase the area of rice and wheat they grew at the expense of other crops. And with faster-growing varieties and irrigation, farmers grew more crops on their land each year. This change led to even faster growth in cereal production. All these gains were achieved with negligible growth in total area planted to cereal—just 0.4 p.c. p.a.”
How did agricultural growth stimulated by the green revolution in India act as a motor for the Indian economy may be confirmed by a study made by C. Rangarajan in 1982. He estimated that an increase of 1.0 percentage point in the agricultural growth rate stimulated an increase of 0.5 p.c. in the industrial output growth rate, and an increase of 0.7 p.c. in the growth rate of national income.
But the green revolution, being pro-capitalist in nature, has accentuated the problem of rural inequality. Further, technological innovations of the labour-saving variety have displaced labour. Most important worry that has become uppermost in the minds of all is the environmental sustainability of the green revolution technology.
Green revolution needs to be made pro-poor and environmentally sustainable.