Agriculture is by far the largest sector in the Indian economy, contributing 15.7% of the GDP in the year 2009-10. With 60% of India’s population from the rural areas engaged in agriculture, the sector employs more than half the total workforce of India. Yet, it is perhaps the most-neglected sector of the Indian economy. No doubt, systematic and sustained inputs into agriculture will automatically improve the socio-economic conditions of a majority of Indians.
Indian agriculture underwent a drastic change in the mid-1960s with the advent of the Green Revolution. The Green Revolution focused on mono-crop mass cultivation and introduced Indian farming to hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, heavy irrigation and automation. Yields increased substantially in the next few years and, for long, the Green Revolution was praised for its efficiency.
However, the consequences of this new form of chemical-based mono-crop mass agriculture began to be felt by the agricultural population and consumers at large. Some of these included decreasing yields in the long run due to degraded soil, toxic and depleted water sources, loss of agricultural and natural biodiversity, a corrupt public distribution system, increased debts of poor farmers, resulting in farmer suicides across the country.
Added to this trouble is the new threat of the introduction of genetically-modified (GM) technology which is being heavily lobbied by the biotech industry in India. In this proposed Gene Revolution, as GM seeds and crops are introduced, farmers are likely to suffer from lack of access to traditional varieties of seeds, increased input costs and the threat of being sued by large multinationals in case of the GM crop contamination through pollination since GM seeds are patented.
Moreover, Indian consumers will lose their right of choice, besides being affected by the dangerous health risks that GM food poses.
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Kisan Swaraj Yatra:
India’s Biggest Farmer Organisation: