At a point of time in our history, we went to the western world with a begging bowl for food. Then came the green revolution. It was not merely the innovation by agricultural scientists. Innovative extension models, participation of farmers in the innovation movement and so on were responsible for its success. Indeed a positive policy support, liberal public funding for agricultural research and development and dedicated work of farmers contributed to its success. But what about the future? We have the daunting task of feeding almost 1.5 billion people with about 350 millions tons of food grains by 2040. The increased production has to be attained with minimal ecological damage, falling per capita arable land, less irrigation water and less fossil fuel based energy sources. This needs an innovative blending of technology and experience. Here, on the one hand, we will need to deploy cutting-edge advances in modern biotechnology, space technology, information technology and renewable energy technology; on the other hand, we will need to take cognizance of the best in India’s traditional agricultural wisdom and prudence.
It is only through the blending of the “gene revolution” with our experience in the ‘green revolution’, that we can reach our goal of ‘evergreen revolution’ and also ‘nutritional revolution’. The advantage of the gene revolution is that it is relatively scale neutral, and therefore, in principle, it should benefit the big and small farmers alike. It can also reduce a farmer’s dependency on chemical inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers.
Sir Francis Bacon had once said: “It would be an unsound fancy to expect that things which have never yet been done can be done except by methods which have never been tried”. We therefore require a new approach. Let us move boldly on finding these new approaches with an open mind and a sense of purpose.