Agricultural change
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KEY POINT - The Green Revolution involves the use of high-yielding varieties of seed, increased irrigation and the use of fertilisers to improve food supply.

Contemporary solutions to problems of farming regions in LEDCs
Meeting the rising demand for food: the Green Revolution
During the 1960s, as world population grew, there was increasing concern in many countries about providing an adequate food supply. The main plan to increase food supply was called the Green Revolution.
Countries such as India and Indonesia made great efforts to increase the supply of rice and wheat using irrigation, new seeds and fertilisers. The main aspects of the Green Revolution are:
  • use of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of seed produced by scientists in the Philippines. The first successful HYV was IR-8 the ‘miracle rice’ that doubled yields
  • larger amounts of fertiliser are needed by the HYVs
  • HYVs need adequate and carefully-controlled water supplies
  • further development of HYVs has reduced the growing period from 180 to 100 days
  • scientists are continuing to develop new varieties of seed that need less irrigation, are resistant to disease and are good to eat
  • governments are offering loans, advice, storage and transport facilities to poorer farmers.
  • The Green Revolution has brought benefits and problems.
  • Increased rice production; the total produced doubled, especially in China.
  • Improved standard of living as farmers sold their surplus, e.g. the Punjab in India where farmers were willing to accept the changes.


  • Irrigation is essential for the best results from HYVs.
  • HYVs are not successful on alluvial plains where flooding occurs.
  • HYVs are more costly to grow, needing more fertiliser and irrigation.
  • Farmers who can afford to grow HYVs get richer and this increases the gap between them and the poorer farmers.
  • Fertilisers for HYVs are creating pollution in rivers and lakes.
  • HYVs have been vulnerable to outbreaks of disease.
  • Mechanisation has increased unemployment.
  • Intense use of land increases dangers of soil erosion.
  • Overuse of water from irrigation creates waterlogging and salinisation.
  •  Sophisticated technology may be inappropriate for local people, e.g. expensive electrical water pumps cannot be maintained by local craftspeople but simple ones can.

Contemporary solutions to problems of farming regions in MEDCs

The European Union (EU) and its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
The CAP has been in action, for member states including the UK, since 1962. It aims are:
  • to protect the income of farmers
  • to ensure reasonable and steady prices for consumers
  • to ensure food supplies through increased production
  • to protect the quality of life in rural areas.
These policies have been put into action through grants, subsidies and guaranteed prices. Stable prices allow farmers to plan. The policy has been criticised for protecting weaker farmers, creating mountains of food and lakes of wine, making food expensive when compared with the USA and for environmental damage (hedgerow removal, soil erosion, excessive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides) as farmers attempt to increase production.
Recently the EU has been paying farmers to take part of their land out of production (set-aside).
The CAP is unpopular and seen as protecting poorly organised farmers at the expense of the public. It protects European farmers against cheaper food from LEDCs.
Farm diversification
Farmers in the UK have found it increasingly difficult to make their farms economic. Food surpluses, milk quotas, reduced subsidies and growing public awareness of environmental issues have combined to reduce farm income. Farmers have been encouraged by government to move to other means of earning income (diversification).
Farmers have turned to:
  • pick-your-own (PYO) for apples, strawberries, gooseberries and other fruit
  • garden centres and farm shops for the sale of farm produce and garden plants
  • barns and outbuildings converted to holiday cottages
  • small industrial estates near to the farm buildings
  • golf courses and nature reserves open to the public on farm land.
The National Farmers Union has produced a list of nearly 30 ways in which farmers can use their land to increase their income.
Progress Check
1. Describe the main inputs to a farm.
2. What are the five main types of agriculture found in the UK?
3. List the human and physical factors influencing a farmer’s decisions.


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