Green Revolution- Inequitable and Inadequate
Economic Times
May 19, 2003

CHENNAI: The substantial progress achieved through the Green revolution in South Asia in early sixties was inadequate and inequitable to reduce the region's 'huge backlog' of poverty, a recent report said.

Though India and Sri Lanka had achieved medium levels of human development, other countries were in the low levels of human development and there were huge disparities between urban and rural population in all the countries in the region, the report prepared by the Mahbub ul Huq development centre, a policy research and think-tank based in Islamabad, said.

About 40 per cent of the world's poor lived in south Asia, most of them in rural areas and mostly dependent on agriculture, it said.

Although the region had made progress in many areas of human development during the last three decades, it had yet to provide quality primary education, healthcare and nutrition to all south Asians, it said.

During the nineties, productivity growth had declined due to lower levels of investment in agriculture, leading to lack of maintenance and deterioration of agricultural and rural infrastructure. The investment in agriculture by both private and public sectors was inadequate and was not helping agriculture to play an important role in the overall growth of economy, it said.

In India, public investment in agriculture had fallen by six per cent in real terms between 1994-95 and 1999-2000. While private investment picked up to some extent, it had not been enough to make up for the already low share of farm investment in GDP. The report said excessive use of green revolution technologies had led to substantial loss of arable land and enviromental degradation, including soil erosion, water logging and salinity.

In the sixties, green revolution technologies, along with supportive policies and institutions, had averted famine in south Asia, but negative social and environmental effects of the green revolution technology had subsequently erased some of the positive gains.

Lack of legal framework to define property rights and delay in land reforms had negatively affected the access of small farmers to credit and other inputs.

The pattern of land ownership and unequal access to water, credit and other resources led to overuse of irrigation water and chemical fertiliser by the rural elite, the report released here by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme, said.

The widespread poverty and inequality in rural areas was the outcome of this situation that failed to receive adequate policy attention, it said.

It placed significant emphasis on the issue of marginalisation of women in rural areas. They remained hostage to backward and feudal traditions and also had to take over a large burden of physical work because of systematic migration of men to urban areas or abroad.

It said the economic reforms had a negative impact on agriculture, rural development and poverty reduction. The macroeconomic framework, introduced to integrate South Asian economies with the world was not favourable to agriculture and had not provided incentives to small farmers.

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