The Green Revolution of the 1960s was independent India's greatest fightback against food scarcity and hunger. By providing farmers with new technological tools, hybrid seeds of rice and wheat and easier access to subsidised fertilisers and pesticides, planners raised wheat production in the state from 1.7 million ton in 1960-61 to 15.5 million ton in 2000-01. Punjab, whose name means the land of five rivers, came to be known as the food bowl of India.
Fifty years later, farming in Punjab is no longer profitable. Heavy reliance on fertilisers to boost yields has robbed the soil of its fertility and borewells dug to irrigate the endless fields of gold have sucked every aquifer dry. New kinds of pests now attack crops, ostensibly because of climate change, and wreak large-scale damage. Farmers say they now spend more on every crop than in the previous season, but still produce less. Facing the insurmountable challenge of making farming sustainable, an estimated 16,000 farmers killed themselves in the last 15 years.
The following images are a short preview of my ongoing project, which looks at contemporary Punjab through the lens of young men from agrarian families in the state.