By Aadil Mansoor
Fifty years down the road, the reign of the Green Revolution that began in the 1960s in India seems to be nearing its end. The Green Revolution pushed the production frontiers of the agriculture sector through farm mechanisation and introduction of high yielding varieties (HYVs), complemented by the construction of upstream water reservoirs. It helped farmers increase food grain and crop production at higher rates than the rates of population growth. In the following three decades (1960-80), the average yield per hectare rose at an impressive average rate of 4 percent per year. This growth was not only enough to feed a population of 85 million, growing at a fast rate of 4.12 percent per year during that period, but also generated surpluses that improved Pakistan’s export performance and earned foreign exchange reserves for a cash starved economy.
Sadly, that phase of growth and ample food is no longer the prospect for Pakistanis today. In the last five years, there have been several occasions when the production of food grains (wheat and rice in particular) fell below the demand and the resultant shortfall had to be met through imports. This caused widespread food shortages and unrest on the one hand, and a serious blow to the country’s scant foreign reserves and cash flows, on the other. Since 2004-05, Pakistan has imported as high as 4 million tonnes of wheat each year to meet the domestic demand. The situation is food security is worsening with every passing year and the crisis will likely turn into a disaster unless targeted and timely reforms of the agricultural system are carried out. Continue reading