From Green to Evergreen by Dr.M.S.Swaminathan ; Published by Academic Foundation ; Pages 410; Price Rs 1195/-
The book under review has a Preface by Jeffrey Sachs who is Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he holds the title of University Professor, the highest rank Columbia bestows on its faculty. He is known as one of the world's leading experts on economic development and the fight against poverty. Sachs has this to say of Dr.M.S.Swaminathan. “Swaminathan’s wisdom is not readily summarised, so my best advice is to read carefully, savour and ponder these essays….. He brims with ideas, prescriptions, policy plans and experiments. He knows that we can meet the great sustainability challenges ahead, but only through tremendous will, scientific knowledge , ethical commitment and openness to partnership and cooperation.” He has been described by the United Nations Environment Programme as “the Father of Economic Ecology.”
Dr.M. S. Swaminathan is a world scientist, a Member of the Rajya Sabha, a member of the National Advisory Council, Government of India and the Chairman of the M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation. He is a former Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research and of the International Rice Research Institute. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the first World Food Prize. He was one of three from India included in Time magazine’s 1999 list of the “20 most influential Asian people of the 20th century,” the other two being Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore .
Dr. M S Swaminathan is known as the Father of the Green Revolution in India for his leadership and success in introducing and further developing high-yielding varieties of wheat in India.
The Indian Government has honoured him with its prestigious national decorations like Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan and he has been the recipient of numerous awards and prizes and medals from all over the world. He has amassed over a hundred awards, national and International. He is highly eligible for the Nobel Prize. He has to his credit a number of books.
The book under review is wonderful collection of forty six essays and describes the key components of an ecologically sound, evergreen revolution.
Despite efforts by the central and state governments, India remains home to the largest number of malnourished children and adults in the world. This book holistically considers the problem of food production in India. Arguing for the use of environmentally sustainable agriculture—referred to as the “Evergreen Revolution”—this compilation addresses a number of ways to attain a hunger-free India, such as monsoon management, safeguarding biological diversity, and food security.
Integrating ecology and technology is the way forward towards an evergreen revolution. Organic agriculture can help us move from green revolution to ever-green revolution. “The world would require 50 per cent more rice in 2030 than what was in 2004, with approximately 30 per cent less arable land of today. Hence, the need for a sustainable development goal set towards providing food security and nutrition”, according to Swaminathan.
He emphasises that mainstreaming ecology in technology development and dissemination is the road to sustainable agriculture. Information technology is a transformational technology and has to be used towards sustainable development.
While the Green Revolution focussed on high-yield. the need today is for an ever green revolution that can be achieved by organic agriculture. Swaminathan called upon the younger generation to get into farming. “There is also a need to ensure that youth get excited about agriculture. Now, even agriculture has seen several developments in technology and youth can take part in food production and agriculture,”
Swaminathan recalls that the country had “the good fortune of having C. Subramaniam as Union Minister for Agriculture and Food, which “facilitated timely public policy decisions.” The success of the green revolution was due to the operation of certain factors that worked in concert: “The revolution resulted from a symphony approach with four major components — technology, which is the prime mover of change; services, which can take the technology to all farmers, whether small or large; public policies relating to the price of inputs and output; and above all, farmers’ enthusiasm promoted by the mass media”
The “Evergreen Revolution” would need a symphony of scientifically sound and sustainable efforts initiated by an enthusiastic state.It aims to correct some of the ecological damage caused by intensive farming in the developing world and blend the use of modern communications technology with sustainable farming techniques tailored to withstand climate change.It stands for increasing productivity in perpetuity without ecological or social harm. The earlier Green Revolution has been criticized for excessive use of pesticides, excessive use of fertilizer, overexploitation of ground water, and so on.
Swaminathan points out how wireless technology has completely revolutionised information transmission and exchange in India. If you go in the coastal areas, small-scale fishermen who go out in small boats, they now carry a cellphone, which has GPS data on wave heights, where the fish are, etc. People who were going out on the sea for ten hours are now able to come back within two to three hours with a large catch. We are using the Internet, the TV, FM radio and the cellphone to tell farmers when there is a new variety of crops, where the seeds are available, and so on.
This is a highly exemplary book which brings a lifetime of experience to the issues faced by agriculture and is unique in its scope, achievements and breadth of engagement, as pointed out by Sachs.
At 78 Degrees North, the Norwegian village of Longyearbyen on Svalbard island is the farthest north one can travel on a commercial flight to reach THE North Pole. On 26th February 2008, a global seed vault was opened at Svalbard for preserving for posterity a representative sample of the genetic diversity now existing in crop plants. In the middle of an ice mountain, a 120 metre tunnel has been chiseled out of solid stone leading to three giant vaults, capable of storing 4.5 million distinct varieties of crop plants. This storage capacity is sufficient to protect all the diversity that exists now as well as the diversity that is likely to arise in the future. The vaults are located under permafrost conditions where the natural temperature is -4 degrees C year round. The temperature has been lowered to -16 degrees C, the optimal temperature for maintaining long-term seed viability….Page 129