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The History of Green Revolution in Mexico

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The history of Green Revolution is traced back to the 1940s when Daniels, the U S Ambassador to Mexico and Henry Wallace, Vice President of the USA set up a scientific mission to help the development of agricultural technology in Mexico. High Yielding Varieties (HYVs) or the ‘miracle seeds’ were at the core of the new technology. Accordingly, the Mexican government and the Rockefeller Foundation started a joint venture to introduce plant breeding programme in Mexico.

The success of the Green Revolution is often attributed to Norman Borlaug, the Norway-born, U.S-based agricultural scientist interested in agriculture. In the 1940s, he began conducting research in Mexico and developed new disease resistance ‘miracle seeds’ of dwarf varieties of high-yielding wheat. By combining Borlaug’s wheat varieties with new mechanized agricultural technologies, Mexico was able to produce more wheat than was needed by its own citizens, leading to its becoming an exporter of wheat by the 1960s. Prior to the use of these varieties, the country was importing almost half of its wheat supply.

Due to the success of the Green Revolution in Mexico, its technologies spread worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s. In connection with the ‘miracle seed’ programme, two international agricultural research stations International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) were set up. These centres grew out of the Rockefeller Foundation’s country programme to launch the new seeds, known as the New Agricultural strategy, by the mid-1960s. By 1966, IRRI started producing ‘miracle’ rice, in succession to the ‘miracle’ wheat from CIMMYT.

The Green Revolution was given support in Mexico, Philippines and India from the 1940s through to the1960s by the Rockefeller, the Ford Foundation and the U S Government. The United States for instance, imported about half of its wheat in the 1940s but after using Green Revolution technologies, it became self-sufficient in the 1950s and became an exporter by the 1960s. In order to continue using Green Revolution technologies to produce more food for a growing population worldwide, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation, as well as many government agencies around the world funded increased research.

In 1963 with the help of this funding, Mexico formed an international research institution called The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center. Countries all over the world in turn benefited from the Green Revolution work conducted by Borlaug and this research institution. India for example was on the brink of mass famine in the early 1960s because of its rapidly growing population. Borlaug and the Ford Foundation then implemented research there and they developed a new variety of rice, IR8, that produced more grain per plant when grown with irrigation and fertilizers.

Today, India is one of the world’s leading rice producers and IR8 rice usage spread throughout Asia in the decades following the rice’s development in India. The term ‘Green Revolution’ was coined by William Guard of the United States in 1968. It is the name given to the science based transformation of Third World agriculture.

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