The ‘green revolution’ of the past, spearheaded by Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, transformed Indian agriculture. Today, we stand on the brink of another significant transformation, driven by advancements in technology and agritech startups.
In the 1960s, India grappled with substantial agricultural challenges, including severe droughts. Dependency on imports was high. The green revolution introduced high-yielding varieties and techniques, resulting in a remarkable turnaround.
To provide perspective, rice production surged from 30.4 million tonnes in 1966-67 to nearly 4.5 times that amount by 2022-23. Similarly, wheat production saw an approximately tenfold increase.
India’s decisions in the agricultural sector now have global repercussions. For instance, a recent halt in Indian rice exports led to a spike in international prices. However, India continues to import essential items like pulses and edible oils.
The Fertilizer Dilemma:
Fertilizers were a cornerstone of the green revolution. However, current trends indicate diminishing returns from increased fertilizer use, raising concerns about long-term soil health.
Subsidies have been the government’s tool to make fertilizers accessible to farmers. Yet, this has led to overuse in many regions, underscoring the need for more sustainable practices.
A Sustainable Vision:
Dr. Swaminathan envisioned an agricultural model that wasn’t just productive but also environmentally sustainable. This vision remains relevant as we navigate the challenges of modern agriculture.
Today, over 1,500 agritech startups in India are developing innovative solutions for the agricultural sector. Despite economic challenges, these startups have shown resilience, attracting significant funding and attention.
In conclusion, as India stands at the crossroads of tradition and innovation in agriculture, agritech offers promising avenues to address both current challenges and future demands.
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