The Green Revolution in India was one of the important pieces of Indira’s radical programme in the mid and late sixties.
In the later years of Nehru’s final term and during the Shastri interregnum, agricultural reform shifted from institutional and structural reform of land use and ownership, to a variety of technological developments.
Among the most important of these was the introduction of hybrid, high-yielding varieties of seeds for wheat and rice. Such crops increased production dramatically, especially in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh.
Indira Gandhi made the Green Revolution a key government priority and along with the new hybrid seeds, initiated state subsidies, the provision of electrical power, water, fertilisers and credit to farmers. Agricultural income was not taxable.
The result was that India became self-sufficient in food – a heartfelt aim for Indira after American President Johnson’s erratic and condition-laden food aid.
The government investment in agriculture also rose sharply. The institutional finance made available to agriculture doubled between 1968 and 1973. At the same time, public investment, institutional credit, remunerative prices and the availability of the new technology at low prices was also made available. This increased the profitability of private investment by farmers and consequently the total gross capital formation in agriculture proceeded at a faster pace. The results of this new strategy was witnessed within a short period of time between 1967-68 and 1970-71, when food grain production increased by thirty seven percent and subsequently net imports of food items fell from 10.3 million tonnes in 1966 to 3.6 million in 1970. Indeed, food availability increased from 73.5 million tonnes to 99.5 million over the same period. By the eighties, not only was India self-sufficient with food stocks of over 30 million tonnes, but also exporting food to pay off its loans or loaning it to food deficit countries.