The GREEN Foundation is working to slow the rate of farmer suicides in India and improve conditions for farmers—especially women—whose traditional agricultural methods were stripped away by the Green Revolution. A 20th-century push by Western agronomists to decrease hunger in developing nations, the Green Revolution led to the introduction of higher-yield crops and technologies and caused rice and wheat production in India to jump significantly.

According to GREEN Foundation founding trustee Dr. Vanaja Ramprasad, the Green Revolution is “a misnomer to begin with,” because it came at the expense of time-honored farming techniques and farmers’ economic security, which the GREEN Foundation has been working since the 1990s to address through community seed banks and educational outreach programs.

“[The Green Revolution] was based on high chemical input to realise higher yields, and promoted monocultures to feed the growing populations,” Ramprasad says. “The Green Revolution focused on two crops—rice and wheat—thereby destroying all diversity of food crops. All diversity needed for sustainable farming also disappeared, with more and more chemical use.”

The Green Revolution also made agriculture more expensive for farmers in countries like India, as they became tied to large foreign agriculture companies for seeds, herbicides, and fertilizers necessary for growing high-yield crops. Ramprasad explained that farmers who never previously would have borrowed from banks became indebted to them due to the increasing expense of agriculture—and farmers whose crops failed were unable to repay their debts, leading to an increasing rate of male farmer suicides. Women then became responsible for carrying on the family farms and providing for their families.

More than 12,000 farmers and agricultural laborers have taken their own lives every year since 2013, according to the Times of India.