The "green revolution" is one of the success stories of post-independence India cited globally. It enabled India to convert its
"begging bowl" status into that of "self-sufficiency." It also brought about an element of resilience in agriculture to ward off the vagaries of nature, and infused much needed confidence in the National Agricultural Research System (NARS). The green revolution ushered in an era of overall rural prosperity. This massive transformation was possible due to two basic factors, i.e., research infrastructure and trained human resource. Both of these were critical for the technological development which flourished under effective, efficient and reasonable public policies.
The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) as the apex agricultural research organization had been at the forefront in setting the national research agenda and in guiding its development. As a result, the total food grain production increased from a mere 50.8 million tons (mt) during 1950-51 to 199.3 million tons in 1996-97. The production of wheat (69.3 mt), rice (81.3 mt) and oilseeds (25.0 mt) have recorded an all time high. In the process, India emerged as the second largest producer of wheat, surpassing the USA in both production as well as productivity.
Tropical, subtropical and arid fruit crops together produced 40 million tons from 3.94 m ha, and enabled India to occupy a leading position in the world. In vegetable production (64.67 mt) India is now the second largest producer, after China. In this total agricultural endeavor, 14.3 million tons of NPK fertilizers and 56 thousand tons of pesticides were used. All this was made possible due to adoption of good quality seeds, enhanced use of fertilizers and plant protection practices, and an increase in assured irrigation. The distribution of certified/quality seeds to the farmers from public sector outlets alone increased to 700,000 tons in 1996-97 from 250,000 tons during 1980-81. Interestingly, during the nineties seed production and availability through the private sector has gone up many fold. There are over 500 small and large seed companies, including several multinationals.
The livestock sector, as well, continues to play an important role in India's economy in terms of income, employment, earning foreign exchange and enhancing household nutritional security. India has a population of 193 million cattle and 79 million buffalo, contributing about 71 million tons of milk. Besides, 28.5 billion eggs and 44.6 million kg of wool are produced in this sector. India has also achieved fish production of 5.39 million tons from marine and inland resources during 1997-98, to become one of the leading nations producing fish and fish products.
The negligible imports of cereals during the last decade, and improvement in the per capita availability; per capita calorie intake closer to the accepted norms (about 2200 calories/day); the export of food grains exceeding on average the imports; considerable stability in food grain production and availability; diversified crop production increasing physical access to other commodities such as oilseeds, vegetables and fruits, sugarcane, condiments and spices in different regions; and the increase in economic access to food through increased per capita income are the positive features of an emerging strong agriculture-based Indian economy.
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