From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Operation Greens Scheme
Mains level : Operation Greens Scheme; TOP farmers concerns and solution
- The Operation Greens scheme aimed to develop a value chain for reducing extreme price fluctuations in the three basic vegetables (tomatoes, onions, and potatoes), enhance farmers’ realizations, and improve their share of the consumer rupee. However, the scheme has not been successful in achieving its goals, as seen by the recent protests against low prices by onion and potato farmers.
What is Operation Greens scheme?
- The Operation Greens scheme is a government initiative launched in the 2018-19 Union budget by the present government.
- It aims to develop a value chain for reducing extreme price fluctuations in the three basic vegetables, including tomatoes, onions, and potatoes (TOP).
- The scheme was later expanded to 22 perishable crops in the 2021-22 budget.
- The government hopes that by developing a sustainable value chain for these perishable commodities, farmers will benefit from better price realization, while consumers will have access to quality products at reasonable prices.
Aim & Objectives:
- To enhance value realization of TOP farmers; reduction in post-harvest losses; price stabilization for producer and consumers and increase in food processing capacities and value addition.
- Price stabilisation for producers and consumers by proper production planning in the TOP clusters and introduction of dual-use varieties.
- Reducing post-harvest losses by creation of farm gate infrastructure, development of suitable agro-logistics, creation of appropriate storage capacity linking consumption centres.
- Increasing food processing capacities and value addition in the TOP value chain with firm linkages with production clusters.
- Setting up a market intelligence network to collect and collate real-time data on demand and supply and price of TOP crops.
- Short-term intervention by way of providing transportation and storage subsidy @ 50% and
- long-term intervention through value addition projects in identified production clusters with Grant-in-aid @ 35% to 70% of the eligible project cost subject to a maximum of Rs. 50 crore per project
Limited Success of Operation Greens Scheme
- Retail tomato prices: Tomato prices in wholesale markets have dropped significantly, but retail prices have not reduced much, indicating limited success.
- Low Onion price: Onion and potato farmers are protesting against low prices, highlighting the scheme’s lack of effectiveness.
- For instance: There are protests by Maharashtra’s onion growers against low prices, including relay hunger fasts, stoppage of auctions at major mandis, and a 200-km march to Mumbai. Similarly, potato farmers in Uttar Pradesh have demanded that the government procure their tuber at Rs 10 per kg, as against the ruling Rs 6-6.5/kg market price at Agra.
Reasons behind its limited success
- Problem Not with Lack of Storage or Processing Capacity: UP alone has an abundance of cold stores with ample capacity to store perishable goods like potatoes. Maharashtra’s growers have built enough kandha chawls to store onions for 4-6 months. Despite the creation of storage capacity, price volatility persists in milk and cane payment arrears to farmers.
- Price Volatility: The prices of TOP crops have been volatile, which has adversely affected both farmers and consumers. The prices of these commodities tend to fluctuate sharply due to seasonality, weather conditions, and other factors, resulting in uncertainty and instability in the market.
- Implementation Issues: The scheme’s implementation has been marred by delays, bureaucratic hurdles, and lack of coordination among various stakeholders, which has resulted in low participation and limited success.
- Lack of Market Linkages: Another reason for limited success is the lack of market linkages between producers and consumers. The farmers are unable to access markets directly, which leads to dependence on intermediaries who manipulate prices, resulting in price volatility.
Need for Price or Income Assurance for Farmers
- Investment: Investment in farm-gate, agri-logistics, and storage-cum-processing infrastructure needs to be encouraged.
- Assurance: Price or income assurance for farmers is necessary, especially for horticulture, dairy, and poultry producers who do not enjoy minimum support price benefits.
- Diversification: The future for Indian agriculture lies in crop diversification, which will spur greater consumption of foods incorporating proteins (pulses, milk, eggs, and meat) and micro-nutrients (fruits and vegetables), instead of only calories and carbohydrates.
- Deficiency price payments: The deficiency price payments or per-hectare direct income transfers could be the way forward.
- It is evident that the limited success of the Operation Greens scheme underscores the urgent need for a more comprehensive approach to address the challenges faced by TOP farmers. A more holistic approach is required that prioritizes farmer empowerment, investment in infrastructure, and promotion of crop diversification. By adopting such an approach, the government can not only mitigate the impact of price volatility on farmers but also achieve its broader goal of building a sustainable and resilient agricultural sector that benefits both producers and consumers alike.
Q. What is Operation Greens scheme? Analyse its limited success in achieving its objectives and Suggest measures to improve the scheme’s effectiveness.