Synopsis: A closer inspection of the Operation Green scheme shows that the scheme is nowhere near achieving its objectives.
The Finance Minister during budget presentations announced the expansion of Operation Green (OG). It will be expanded beyond tomatoes, onions, and potatoes to 22 perishable commodities.
- Operation Green was launched in 2018 with three basic objectives:
- Firstly, it should control the wide price instability in the three largest vegetables of India (Tomatoes, Onions, and Potatoes).
- Secondly, it should build efficient value chains so that a larger share of the consumers’ money is received by the farmers.
- Thirdly, it should reduce the post-harvest losses by building modern warehouses and cold storage.
How is the operation green performing currently?
The Ministry of Food Processing Industries (MoFPI) has invited some program management agencies to see the implementation of OG.
- Rs 500 crore budget was outlined initially. However, only Rs. 8.45 crore has been actually released.
- A closer examination of the scheme reveals that OG is progressing in slow motion and is nowhere near achieving its objectives.
- Research at ICRIER tells that price instability remains high. Farmers’ share in consumers’ money is very low with 26.6 percent for potatoes, 29.1 percent for onions, and 32.4 percent for tomatoes.
- In cooperatives like AMUL, farmers get almost 75-80 percent of consumers’ money.
What can operation green learn from the operation flood?
Operation Flood (OF) changed India’s milk sector and made India the world’s largest milk producer. There are some important lessons OG can learn from OF:
- Firstly, OG will not get any immediate results and one has to be patient. There should be a separate board to strategize and implement the OG scheme, like the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) for milk.
- Secondly, a respectable leader with commitment and competence is required to head this new board of OG. The person should be given at least a five-year term, sufficient resources, and should be made accountable for delivering results.
- The MoFPI can have its evaluation every six months.
- Thirdly, at present, the criterion for the selection of TOP commodity clusters is not transparent. This process should be transparent to keep the politics away.
- Fourthly, the subsidy scheme will have to be made innovative with new generation entrepreneurs, startups, and FPOs.
- For instance, the announcement to create an additional 10,000 FPOs along with the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund and the new farm laws are all promising but need to be implemented fast.