Sustainability of the Rice-Wheat Cropping System: Issues, Constraints, and Remedial Options
Four decades after the Green Revolution (GR), which made South Asia food-secure, the sustainability of agriculture is posing a serious challenge to the region’s food security all over again. Today, scientists are trying to understand where the GR went wrong. The answer probably lies in the fact that, at the time of the GR, increase in yield was the only criterion, with little or no emphasis on sustainability. The way to increase yield was to increase inputs, such as fertilizer and pesticides, ignoring their long-term effects on the natural resource base and the environment. In the GR, rice (Oryza saliva L.) and wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) became the most important crops with thirsty and hungry high-yielding cultivars. Though the immediate food demand was met, an increased demand for water led to over-extraction of groundwater, indiscriminate intensive cropping robbed the soil of its nutrients, and the non-judicious use of chemicals poisoned the groundwater and contaminated crops.