Demographic experts project that the human population will reach over 10 billion in the next three decades. This surge in human numbers will drive up the global food demand. The green revolution offers many practical solutions to help the planet sustain the growing human population.
Read on to discover the green revolution initiative’s history, pros, and cons.
History of the Green Revolution
In the aftermath of the second world war, food scarcity became a real problem for many countries. Severe drought and famine struck many nations causing people to starve. This situation inspired the rise in popularity of the green revolution, which increased food production by raising productivity.
The revolution facilitated the creation of high-yielding crop varieties to solve the food problem. The initiative sparked significant improvements in rice and wheat production. Farmers could further raise their yields by using agrochemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Selective breeding and genetic modifications resulted in disease-resistant crop varieties.
In short, the green revolution has made it possible to feed more people while using fewer resources in food production.
Advantages of the Green Revolution
1. Leads to more food production
Previously, producing food on a massive scale was almost impossible, and traditional food production methods were highly labor-intensive. This made largescale food production uneconomical. Green revolution initiatives have transformed the agricultural sector, allowing farmers to produce at unimaginable scales.
Thanks to research and development, farmers worldwide enjoy better outcomes when incorporating modern machinery and agrochemicals in crop production.
2.Consistent yields regardless of seasonal changes
Farmers heavily relied on climatic conditions to grow crops and rear animals. Unpredictable weather conditions and constant pest attacks created huge fluctuations in food production. The green revolution has initiated plenty of research into developing improved crop strains.
These improved crop varieties have better resistance to pests and tolerance to adverse conditions. Their superior quality enables farmers to maintain consistent yields even under unfavorable conditions.
Food prices are heavily reliant on the global food supply and demand. High-yielding crop varieties allow farmers to harvest more produce for longer periods. Besides increasing food supply, disease-tolerant varieties contribute to consistency in food production, which helps minimize price fluctuation.
When more food is available to consumers, it becomes cheaper than when scarce. Modern farming techniques allow farmers to produce more crops on less land using minimal resources. This drop in production costs allows farmers to charge less and still make profits.
4.Reduces the need for land fallowing
Fallowing is a traditional land preparation technique that allows farmers to work in their fields throughout the year. The technique improves the water retention properties of soil in low rainfall areas. Under fallowing, farmers in low precipitation areas had to wait one or two seasons after a harvest before planting again.
Today, initiatives arising from the green revolution allow farmers to harvest all year round without having to fallow. Agrochemicals, fertilizers, nutrient supplements, and modern irrigation solutions allow fields to yield consistently. This continual production generates more income for farmers.
5. Reduces poverty and hunger in developing countries
Despite the advancement in food production, hunger and malnutrition remain major problems in developing countries. More developing countries are looking to green revolution initiatives to tackle hunger. The uptake of modern farming practices enables many small-scale farmers in developing countries to meet their needs.
Thanks to modern farming practices, many developing countries now export food produce to earn foreign income. These foreign earnings lead to economic growth in developing countries while also reducing deficits in international trade.
Shortcomings of the Green Revolution
1.Creates high levels of food waste
Today, farmers produce more food than is desired by the market. Up to forty percent of food produced is wasted along the supply chain. Humans waste billions of tons of food each year, unheard of during the pre-green revolution era.
2.Creates a fertilizer dependency
Modern food production heavily relies on fertilizer subsidies which are made possible by green revolution initiatives. However, continuous large-scale use of fertilizers leads to acidic soils. Governments also spend a lot of resources on fertilizer subsidies when these resources could be used to improve social infrastructures for the people.
3.Creates seed sterility
Today, most companies involved in crop genetic modification prefer to patent their work for profit maximization. The patents require farmers to purchase new seeds every year when planting. The dependency on sterile seeds raises the overall cost of production for farmers.
4.Encourages pest and plant resistance
Though pesticides effectively eliminate and control pest populations in planting fields, their continuous use encourages pest resistance. Pests eventually adapt to the chemical solutions making them difficult and expensive to eliminate. Plants are also adapting to the chemical compositions used in herbicides.
5.Creates health problems for consumers
The continuous reliance on pesticides and herbicides in crop production poses significant health risks to consumers. Some agrochemicals contain highly toxic compounds which promote the development of cancer as well as other serious medical conditions.
In conclusion, just as many other solutions that has come before, the green revolution has many benefits that we as providers and consumers receive, such as excess food from mass production and lower costs both in store and production. However, there are as many things going against the revolution as are for.
Do the pros outweigh the cons? The Green Revolution has seen a few iterations, and each time we get a chance to make it better. As impact investors, we can invest in research and development for sustainable agriculture methods – not only to better our economical situation, but to move towards a future with better options and less cons.
If you’re interested in making an impact – in our environment, our communities, and our world – join Transformation Holdings in working to maximize the effect investments have on our society. Because sustainable profit doesn’t have to sacrifice sustainable resources.