Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Modernization Projects: The Green Revolution

What was the Green Revolution?

Circa 1968

Basic idea: Increase yields and thereby eliminate world hunger

New crops developed

These were on the one hand dependent on a new set of technologies

Fertilizers, pesticides, mechanization (tractors)

irrigation (electricity)

And on the other hand they allowed for new agricultural techniques


But not everyone had access to the technologies, and thereby not

everyone was in a position to take advantage of the techniques

Who was behind the Green Revolution?

Planned international effort funded by

Rockefeller Foundation

Ford Foundation

Third World Governments

Role of philanthropic organizations in the history of international development

Cold war context

But what was it, really? Some factoids

Norman Borlaug (b. 1914), ‘Father of the Green Revolution’

Plant pathologist/breeder

Joins Rockefeller in 1944

Runs the Comparative Wheat Research and Production Program,

Mexico (later the International Maize and Wheat Improvement


Develops high-yield ‘dwarf’ wheat crop developed, resistant to

pests and diseases

Wins Nobel *Peace* Prize in 1970

The Green Revolution in Asia

International Rice Research Institute (Philippines)

Punjab (India)- Indian wheat production increases 4-fold in

the space of 20 years, 1966-present (12 million tons-47 million tons) (see Gupta, Postcolonial developments)


The Green Revolution as a Template for Development

In conjunction with population control, it was one of the key platforms for

postwar development in the third world

Dwarf wheat and contraception—the Green Revolution was envisioned to

create a ‘breathing space with which to deal with the Population Monster’

Invested in a vision of the future in which technology is believed to have the

ability to trump social and economic distress (and thereby ensure

political stability)


The Green Revolution in Historical Perspective

What is the relationship between the Green Revolution and colonial agriculture?


Management of land, control of resources

Problematic of poverty


What is the relationship between the Green Revolution and the Tennessee Valley Authority


Intergrated development scheme


Cold war context (1930s international socialism context)

Templates for development and their Ecologies of Poverty

Managing natural resources

Hydraulics and hydraulic metaphors

Enduring Malthusiansim