Green Revolution Bypassed Eastern Region Despite Fertile soil and Good availability of water

Barring few pockets, the green revolution virtually bypassed the eastern region of the country despite the fact that it has fertile soil and plenty of water. There were several reasons for the same. Firstly, this region was bypassed due to institutional factors. It has been established that the best performing areas in Green Revolution were under Mahalwari region in Punjab. Although Zamindari system was abolished, yet its influence remained in the eastern parts of India.

Zamindari / Ryotwari/ Mahalwari regions

Due to many historical factors; India had become hodgepodge of several systems of land tenure, land tenancy and land revenue systems. In Bihar, Bengal, Odisha and Eastern Uttar Pradesh; the land was held by the Zamindars; so this was known as Zamindari region. Here, Zamindars paid permanently fixed revenue to the government. In Punjab, the land was held by the village communities who paid a land assessment that was revised by periodic new settlements of the revenue. This system was called Mahalwari system. The Ryotwari system prevailed in Bombay and Madras, where land was held by the peasant proprietors who paid land revenue directly to the State. Here, the revenue was assessed on each individual holding pieces of land separately.

More than 80% of the total land holdings in Eastern India were / are small and marginal land holdings. Even in Punjab and Haryana, the new technology was too expensive to adopt for small and marginal farmers; the cost of inputs was unaffordable for majority of the farmers in eastern region.

Secondly, the cropping pattern in Eastern India was traditionally dominated by rice and other low value crops. Rice responded late to new technology but meanwhile western region marched ahead with jumps in production of wheat, maize and bajra. Thirdly; given that Bihar and Odisha were most poor states in the Indian Union having substantial number of households below the poverty line, majority of the farmers practiced subsistence farming in low value crops.

Did Green Revolution totally bypass Eastern India?

It is not true that the Green Revolution did not reach at all to eastern India. Over a period, it has spread to large parts of the nation and has brought prosperity. On this basis, there are three distinct phases of Green Revolution.

  • First is 1962-65 to 1970-73, when there was a sharp increase of yields of wheat in north-western region of Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. Generally we refer to this stage only as Green Revolution.
  • The second phase was from 1970-73 to 1980-83 when rice yield started responding to the HYV seed technology and the Green Revolution spread to other parts of the country notably Eastern UP, Coastal Andhra, some parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh etc.
  • The third phase of green revolution spread to the erstwhile low-growth areas of the eastern region of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam and Odisha during 1980–83 to 1992–95. During this phase, the southern region registered a higher growth of rate than the north-western region.

The third phase contributed little in reducing the regional inequalities but then, the euphoria of green revolution lasted only till that time. After that the growth levels and yield per hectare came down in comparison to earlier decades.

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