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Impact of high yield technology
Socio-economic impact of the high yield technology may be assess through a variety of indicators, which include on the positive angle, growth trends of rice production and productivity, per capita availability and level of food/rice sufficiency, percentage contribution of rice to nation’s food grain production, income and employment generation, net returns to grower and price levels affordable to consumer, export prospects and growth of allied sectors while change in pest scenario, safety, security of environment, state of natural resources, especially water and soil from negative angle. The chronically food and rice deficit country becoming self sufficient in its food/rice needs in a short span of 15 years since the introduction of the high yielding varieties is the most laudable impact of high yield technology. Its continued and extensive adoption over the last four decades has enabled the country increase rice production three folds (from 33.3 in 1966-67 to 93.5 million tonnes in 2006-07 and productivity by two and a half times, from 863 to 2131kg/ha during the corresponding period) and sustain thereby till date food and rice sufficiency.
Analysis of the production components for their relative contribution to the rice production growth reveals the varietal technology as the major contributor to the impressive advance, the CGR being from 2.27 to 2.57 till the decade ending 1986-1995 as against the area growth of 0.40 to 0.55 during the corresponding period. Significantly, the advance made though varietal component is in a way a major land saving achievement, as we would have required 58 million ha more to produce so much at the yield levels of the mid 1960s. Besides their inherent high yielding potential, combination of earliness and photoinsensitivity characteristic to the semidwarf high yielding varieties has facilitated intensification of cropping in areas of assured irrigation and rainfall. In the overall increase in cropping intensity from 118% in 1970-71 to 136% in 2005-06 and from 123% to 137% in irrigated ecology, the role of medium maturing rice varieties in the most productive rice-wheat system in the Indo-gangetic plains and medium and early maturing varieties in rice-rice and other rice-based cropping systems has been substantial. Such changes in the cropping systems in the era of dwarf rice varieties have not only increased the productivity per unit area and production but also enhanced income and employment opportunities in rural areas. Maintenance of rice price at reasonably low levels until very recent years and affordable to all sections of the society is yet another positive impact of the technology from consumers angle.
Unlike in the past, when monsoon inadequacy or failure even over a small stretch of area used to cause famine-like situation, the kind of stability the country experiences now in rice production growth, no matter how large an area suffer from either inadequate/erratic rainfall or from serious pest damage, is the reflection of the kind of resilience the rice production system has acquired today. The impressive advance in food grain production while ensuring sustained self sufficiency in food with percapita availability of .490 gm/day, could enable the country maintain sizeable buffer stock. As for rice, after meeting the consumption based actual requirement as well as the quantity of about 15/20 million tonnes to be set aside for buffer stocking, the country is still left with surplus rice for export. It includes both the highly prized basmati and more in demand non-basmati rices. It is an unbelievable achievement that a country chronically suffering from deficiency in food grain needs has become one of the major rice exporting countries. The volume of rice export has gone up by six folds (from 0.388 million tonnes valued at Rs.352.22 crores in 1987-88, to 2.49 million tonnes valued at Rs.11,164 crores by 2008-09.) Significantly, it was mainly due to rapid growth of basmati rice export (from 0.366 million tonnes in 1987-88 to 1.56 million tonnes in 2008-09 valued at Rs.340 and 9477 crores respectively as against 0.91 million tonnes of non-basmati rice earning Rs.1687 crores in 2008-09). The impressive growth of basmati rice export has been due to the release and extensive adoption of the high yielding semidwarf Pusa Basmati-1 since 1990. Interestingly, it occupies till date 40-60% of area under basmati rices. The new range of high yielding basmati quality varieties that followed it like Sugandh 3, Sugandh 5, Pusa 1401 and Pusa 1121 and the hybrid Pusa RH 10 are sustaining the high growth rate of production and export of basmati quality rice. Aside such direct benefits derived through high yield technology, indirectly it has contributed as well by way of boosting the growth of associated industries such as seed, fertilizer, pesticide and farm machinery.
India’s seed industry is the fifth largest in the world in size and business turnover. Its phenomenal growth during the last 50 years is traceable to the introduction of high yielding varieties of cereal and vegetable crops. Despite a low value crop till the advent of hybrid technology but by being a very high volume crop, rice had its role in the growth and development of India’s seed industry in general and public sector industry in particular. Given the major role it plays today in hybrid seed production and marketing, the private sector would enable the country scale new heights in seed business, the moment comes up with most productive hybrid rice technology. Very large area under rice and maximum of it rapidly coming under high yielding varieties have been instrumental in the steady increase in the level of use and overall consumption of chemical fertilizers since mid 1970s. In the use level from less than 40kg of NPK per ha in 1980-81 to 180kg/ha in 2007-08 and overall fertilizer consumption of 21.65 million tonnes in 2007-08 as against 0.78 million tonnes in 1966-67, rice accounts for quite substantial quantity and same is the case with the use of pesticides, rice being the second largest user of pesticides next to cotton and vegetables. With increasing labour shortage in the rural areas and increasing wage structure, a need has arisen to selectively supplement the manual and animal power dependant rice farming with machinery power, rice being a labour intensive crop. The kind of transformation taking place today in the use of mechanical power for various operations in rice cultivation is suggestive of rice’s potential to provide space for the rapid growth and development of agricultural machinery industry.