Prince Charles ignorant about Green Revolution, say intellectuals

August 18th, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) Agricultural scientists, economists and activists have criticised Prince Charles for trying to undermine India’s Green Revolution and asserted that the agri-movement saved scores of people from starvation in the 1960s. For them, Charles’s comment that Green Revolution worked only for a “short time” emanates from his ignorance that the revolution not only saved millions from starvation, but also made India self-sufficient in food grains.

“Had there been no Green Revolution, millions would have died of famine. It was a much needed thing to happen. There is a need to take the first Green Revolution forward,” said C. Chengal Reddy, secretary general of the Consortium of Indian Farmers Association (CIFA).

Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne, said in an interview published Aug 13 in UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper that the Green Revolution in India only worked for a “short time” and is now leading to “disasters”.

“Look at India’s green revolution. It worked for a short time but now the price is being paid,” Charles was quoted by the paper as saying.

Attributing Charles’ comments to ignorance, CIFA’s Reddy said: “One should not forget that the developed nations are the potential obstacle in the way of developing countries’ farm sector.”

“India must use biotechnology effectively to optimise productivity. Ninety percent of our farmers are small landholders, owning less than one hectare,” he said.

Agricultural economist Dalip Kumar seconded the observation.

“Thanks to the Green Revolution, we have been able to avoid food shortage. Our outputs have gone up. He has failed to see the great merits of India’s farm revolution,” Kumar, an economist with the city-based National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), economic think tank, said.

“What is required now is to take the spirit of the Green Revolution uniformly countrywide,” he added.

A senior functionary of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), a government-run body dedicated to research in farm sector, wondered why Charles made the comments.

“How can some one decry the Green Revolution? It happened at a very critical juncture, when we desperately needed food to save millions of lives,” he said requesting anonymity.

“It is true that dynamics of farming have changed now. People’s food habits have altered. Accordingly, we need to adopt a farm policy,” the ICAR official said.

Charles’ observation is also in conflict with what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in his inaugural address at the Global Agro Industries Forum summit here April 10.

“There was a time when it used to be said that India lived a ship-to-mouth existence. There was a time when we were critically dependant on food imports. Our farmers were hard put to survive even one bad monsoon. All of that was barely 40 years ago. The Green Revolution has enabled us to become largely self-sufficient in food grains,” Singh had said.

President Pratibha Patil Aug 14 too pushed for a second edition of Green Revolution.

“We must not forget that the food security of India is dependent on the growth of its agriculture,” Patil said in her address to the nation on the eve of India’s 61st anniversary of independence.

The Green Revolution programme began in the 1960s in the form of plant breeding, irrigation development, and financing of agrochemicals, leading to bumper rice and wheat crops.

Rice yields were about two tonnes per hectare that decade, which went up to six tonnes in subsequent years.

The government has the target to achieve production of 129 million tonnes of rice by 2011-12 with the growth rate of 3.7 percent, along with other food grains.

India’s food grain production was estimated at 230.67 million tonnes in 2007-08.

As per the fourth Advance Estimates of Crop Production for 2007-08, there is an absolute increase of 13.39 million tonnes in food production at 230.67 million tonnes, as compared to 217.28 million tonnes in 2006-07.

The production of rice stood at 96.43 million tonnes, wheat 78.40 million tonnes, coarse cereals 40.73 million tonnes, maize 19.31 million tonnes, pulses 15.11 million tonnes, and oilseeds 28.82 million tonnes.

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