Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution that changed the face of India’s agriculture, died on Saturday. His life’s achievement helped India four decades ago to avert the neo-Malthusian nightmare that suggested it couldn’t feed its rising population.
But agricultural problems haven’t left our country; after a spell of normal monsoons, they are coming back to haunt us with this year’s drought as food prices mount. And considering that per capita consumption of cereals has been decreasing for decades, India may need another such revolution. Science continues to hold solutions, if politics will allow them to be implemented. Genetically modified crops can be used to increase yields, resist diseases and employ less water.
But this revolution has to be more than just about high- yielding seeds. Water scarcity forces us to rethink irrigation; rotten grain prompts storage concerns. What’s more, the government must re-evaluate pricing mechanisms— indiscriminate fertilizer subsidies or minimum support prices—that distort the agriculture sector.