Despite these successes, problems remain. The intensification of agriculture and the reliance on irrigation and chemical inputs has led to environmental degradation, increased salinity, and pesticide misuse. Deforestation, overgrazing, and overfishing also threaten the sustainable use of natural resources.
Green Revolution technologies had little impact on the millions of smallholders living in rainfed and marginal areas, where poverty is concentrated. Furthermore, the Green Revolution has already run its course in much of Asia. Wheat and rice yields in the major growing areas of Asia have been stagnant or declining for the past decade, while population continues to increase (Pingali et al. 1997). The key lessons learned from the Green Revolution are: (i) it has benefited farmers in irrigated areas much more than farmers in rainfed areas thus worsening the income disparity between the two groups, (ii) it overlooked the rights of women to also benefit from the technological advances, and (iii) it promoted an excessive of use of pesticides that are harmful to the environment.
As countries became self sufficient in food, government investments declined in the agricultural sector and in science and technology across the region. This reflects a worldwide trend toward declining public investments in the rural sector and in agricultural research and development (R&D), nationally and internationally.
In Asia, private sector investments in the rural sector and related R&D have concentrated on export commodities. The downward trends in public investments by governments and development agencies in smallholder agriculture over the past decade have not been matched by a concomitant rise in private investments. Similarly, there is little (and few incentives for) private R&D on the food crops, livestock, fisheries, and aquaculture systems important for food security and poverty reduction in rural Asia.
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