India's White Revolution

India's White Revolution

Last updated: Mar, 2024
India's White Revolution

The "White Revolution" in India refers to the successful implementation of Operation Flood, a dairy development program launched on January 13, 1970. Spearheaded by India's National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), It is the most extensive dairy development initiative globally. The initiative aimed to empower dairy farmers in steering their own development and gaining control over the resources they generate.

The movement was led by visionary Dr. Verghese Kurien, father of India’s White Revolution. His revolutionary approach showcases how strategic planning and community collaboration can drive socio-economic development. Every year, on November 26th, India observes National Milk Day in commemoration of the birth anniversary of Dr. Verghese Kurien.

White Revolution in India led to the remarkable transformation and growth of the dairy industry, particularly the production of milk and dairy products. The introduction of advanced dairy farming practices, crossbreeding of cattle for higher milk yields, and the establishment of cooperatives, played a pivotal role in this revolution.

The significance of the White Revolution lies in its contribution to rural empowerment, poverty alleviation, and economic development. By boosting milk production and creating a cooperative framework, it not only elevated the socio-economic status of farmers but also made India one of the largest milk producers globally, fostering self-sufficiency and economic growth in the agricultural sector. Over 30 years, it effectively doubled the per capita availability of milk in India, establishing dairy farming as the nation's foremost self-sustainable rural employment generator.

Need for White Revolution

In the first two decades post-independence, India's dairy landscape faced significant challenges. The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) in milk production during 1950-60 stood at a meagre 1.6% and it fell further to 1.15% during 1960-1970. In 1950-51, the per capita consumption of milk stood at a mere 124 grams per day, and it declined to 107 grams per day by 1970, a level considerably below the globally recommended nutritional standards. During this period, India was a milk-deficient country relying on imports to fulfil its domestic demand. India's dairy industry faced formidable challenges, producing less than ~22 million tons of milk annually despite boasting the world's largest cattle population. The key reasons for the challenging landscape were:

Recognizing these constraints, the Operation Flood aimed to modernize dairy farming practices, enhance cattle breeds, establish cooperative structures, and streamline the supply chain.

Initiation of Operation Flood

Prime Minister of India Late Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri visited Gujarat's Anand district in 1964 and was impressed by the success of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers' Union (Amul). Subsequently, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was established in 1965 under the leadership of Dr. Verghese Kurien. NDDB’s mission was to support the nationwide creation of the 'Anand Pattern' of dairy cooperatives through the phased execution of the Operation Flood (OF) program. The 'Anand Pattern' entailed a cooperative framework, featuring village-level Dairy Cooperative Societies (DCSs) that facilitated district-level unions, ultimately leading to state-level marketing federations. Commencing in 1970, NDDB systematically replicated the Anand Pattern cooperatives throughout India via the Operation Flood initiative.

Key objectives of Operation Flood

By pursuing these distinct objectives, the overarching goal is to establish a comprehensive and sustainable framework that not only boosts milk production but also contributes to the economic upliftment of rural areas and ensures fairness in pricing dynamics for consumers.

The initiative was executed through a three-phase process:

Phase 1 (1970-1980): During Phase I, funding was acquired by means of the sale of skimmed milk powder and butter oil, which were contributed by the European Economic Community (EEC) through the World Food Program (WFP). The NDDB orchestrated the program, meticulously handling the planning and negotiating the specifics of the EEC assistance.

Phase 2 (1981-85): During this phase, a self-sustaining system of 43,000 village cooperatives covering 4.25 million milk producers was established, resulting in making India self-reliant. The production of domestic milk powder surged from 22,000 in the pre-project year to 140,000 tons by 1989. Notably, this substantial increase exclusively originated from dairies established as part of Operation Flood.

Phase 3 (1985-1996): During this phase, Operation Flood facilitated the expansion and fortification of dairy co-operatives, strengthening the necessary infrastructure for procuring and marketing growing volumes of milk. Comprehensive veterinary first-aid healthcare services, feed provisions, and artificial insemination services were extended to co-operative members, accompanied by intensified member education.