Contributions of Indians to Agriculture




Science and Technology

1 min read

Prelims: General Science

Mains: Achievements of Indians in Science & Technology; Indigenization of Technology and Developing New Technology.

Indian agriculture and its allied sectors have witnessed remarkable transformations over the years, with the contribution of pioneering figures like M.S. Swaminathan, Benjamin Peary Pal, Verghese Kurien, Subhash Palekar, and G. Nammalvar. These remarkable individuals and their initiatives have not only boosted agricultural productivity but also paved the way for a more sustainable, resilient, and farmer-centric approach to agriculture in India.

Contributions to Agriculture and Allied Sectors

Agriculture has been the cornerstone of the Indian economy for centuries, and several individuals and institutions have played pivotal roles through various innovations, practices, and research in enhancing agricultural productivity and sustainability.

Contributions to Agriculture and Allied Sectors

MS Swaminathan (1925-2023)


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- M.S. Swaminathan (Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan) was an Indian agronomist and agricultural scientist and was renowned for his leading role in India’s “Green Revolution”.

- Role in Green Revolution:

  • He worked with American agronomist Norman Borlaug to cross Japanese and Mexican dwarf wheat varieties, which he introduced in India.
  • It resulted in high-yielding, disease-free crop strains and the doubling of wheat yields in India.

- Food security: Due to Swaminathan's efforts, India went from being drought-stricken and reliant on US imports in the 1960s to being declared food self-sufficient in 1971.

  • For his efforts, he received the first World Food Prize in 1987. From the proceeds of this prize, he established the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation in Chennai In 1988, which undertakes extensive work across various sectors.

- Farmer welfare: As the head of the National Commission on Farmers, he issued several reports recommending minimum crop support prices, faster and more inclusive growth, and a comprehensive national policy to address farmer suicides.

- Research:

  • He pioneered research in combating parasites affecting potato crops over the years. His research also made potato crops more resistant to cold weather.
  • He studied interspecific hybridization, induced radiation, chemical mutagenesis, and the use of plant growth regulators. He was instrumental in the development of the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers' Rights Act of 2001.

- He was a consistent proponent of sustainable agriculture, emphasising the delicate balance between human progress and ecological sustainability.

- Awards: Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Ramon Magsaysay Award and Albert Einstein World Science Award.

Benjamin Peary Pal (1906-1989)




- He was a famous Indian agronomist and plant breeder. He served as the first Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research from 1965-72.

- He was known for his work in wheat genetics and breeding, but he also had an interest in different rose varieties.

- He was one of the first scientists to demonstrate the advantages of heterosis breeding in a self-pollinated cereal such as wheat.

- He created the bread wheat variety NP 809, which was resistant to all three types of rust, a plant disease.

- He also founded the Rose and Bougainvillaea Societies of India and was the editor of the journal of the Indian Society of Genetics and Plant Breeding.

- Awards: Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan

Verghese Kurien (1921-2012)




- He is often referred to as the "Milkman of India" and the "Father of the White Revolution".

- White Revolution: From 1965 to 1998, he was the founder Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board. He is the architect of India's White Revolution, which helped the country become the world's largest milk producer.

- Revolutionising the dairy sector in India: He was instrumental in establishing the Milk Cooperative movement in the region, initially known as Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd and later renamed "Amul."

  • In 1949, he came to Anand, a region in Kheda district, to serve his bond of five years with the government in return of scholarship.
  • In Anand, he helped cooperatives and later joined the Milk Cooperative movement, which came to be known as Anand Model. It was replicated in most parts of the country, thus revolutionising the dairy sector.

- Operation Flood: Launched in 1970 under Verghese Kurien, Operation Flood has assisted dairy farmers in directing their own development, giving them control over the resources they generate.

- Edible oil industry: He also revolutionised the edible oil industry by introducing 'Dhara'. The Oilseeds Grower's Cooperative Project, launched in 1979, established a direct link between oil producers and consumers, reducing the role of oil traders and oil exchanges.

- In 1979, he founded the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) in Anand to provide management training and research support to the country's cooperatives.

- Awards: Padma Vibhushan, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Ramon Magsaysay Award, World Food Prize

Subhash Palekar (2 February 1949)



- He is a renowned agricultural scientist and advocate of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF).

- Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF):

  • It is the practice of growing crops without the use of any fertilisers, pesticides, or other external materials. The term "Zero Budget" refers to the production of all crops at no cost.
  • It is based on four pillars of Beejamrutham, Jeevamrutham, Achhadana and Waaphasa.
  • He developed this method in the middle of the 1990s as an alternative to the intensive irrigation, chemical fertilisers, and pesticides that were the cornerstones of the Green Revolution.

- Awards: Padma Shri in 2016 (First Indian farmer to be awarded).

G Nammalvar (1938-2013)




- He was a renowned agricultural scientist and a strong advocate for sustainable and organic farming practices in India. He is known as the "Father of Organic Farming in Tamil Nadu".

- He worked as a farm researcher and trainer for the organisation Islands of Peace, founded by the Nobel Laureate R. P. Dominic Pyre.

- He founded a non-profit organization Vanagam Nammalvar Ecological Foundation in 2009, formed collectively by people from various social strata, which empowers people to improve their lives and the environment.

- He advocated for organic farming. He travelled extensively, educating farmers about the harmful effects of chemical farming and the benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture. 

- He was a crusader against genetically modified crops and led the movement in opposition to the methane project in the Cauvery delta districts.

M. V. Rao (1928-2016)


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- He was a key figure in ushering in the Green Revolution in the 1960s, alongside Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, M.S. Swaminathan, and others.

- He was involved with wheat research at the Indian Agriculture Research Institute (IARI).

- During 1961-63, as an associate of M S Swaminathan, he evaluated spring wheat (suitable for India) impregnated with the dwarf gene (norin).

- During 1985-1990, he was instrumental in achieving edible oil self-sufficiency by leading the Technology Mission on Oilseeds mission.

- He served as Vice-President of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences from 2000 to 2003, where he chaired the Committee on the New National Seed Policy.

- Awards: Padma Shri, Norman Borlaug Award, Linker's Award

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PYQs on Contributions of Indians to Agriculture

Question 1: How was India benefited from the contributions of Sir M. Visvesvaraya and Dr. M.S. Swaminathan in the fields of water engineering and agricultural science respectively? (UPSC Mains 2019)

Question 2: Explain various types of revolutions, took place in Agriculture after Independence in India. How these revolutions have helped in poverty alleviation and food security in India? (UPSC Mains 2017)

FAQs on Contributions of Indians to Agriculture

Who is M.S. Swaminathan, and what are his contributions to Indian agriculture?

M.S. Swaminathan, a renowned Indian agronomist and agricultural scientist, is known as the father of India's Green Revolution. His collaboration with Norman Borlaug introduced high-yielding wheat varieties, doubling wheat yields in India and making the country self-sufficient in food production.

What is Verghese Kurien's role in the Indian dairy sector?

Verghese Kurien, often referred to as the "Milkman of India," played a key role in the White Revolution, establishing the Milk Cooperative movement and making India the world's largest milk producer.

What is Operation Flood?

In the 1970s, Operation Flood, also known as the White Revolution in India, was launched to make India self-sufficient in milk production. In India, Dr. Verghese Kurien is regarded as the father of the White Revolution.

What is Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)?

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF) is the practice of growing crops without external inputs such as chemical pesticides and agricultural fertilisers. The term "Zero Budget" refers to all crops with no production costs.

Who is the “Father of Organic Farming in Tamil Nadu”?

Nammalvar, known as the "Father of Organic Farming in Tamil Nadu," was a strong advocate for organic and sustainable farming practices, educating farmers about the benefits of chemical-free agriculture.