Operation Flood, launched in 1970, was a landmark project of India's National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), which was the world's biggest dairy development program. It transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into the world's largest milk producer, surpassing the USA in 1998, with about 17 percent of global output in 2010-11. In 30 years it doubled milk available per person, and made dairy farming India's largest self-sustainable rural employment generator. It was launched to help farmers direct their own development, placing control of the resources they create in their own hands. All this was achieved not merely by mass production, but by production by the masses; the process has been called the white revolution.
The Anand pattern experiment at Amul, a single, cooperative dairy, was the engine behind the success of the program.Verghese Kurien, the chairman and founder of Amul, was named the chairman of NDDB by the then Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri. Kurien gave the necessary thrust using his professional management skills to the program, and is recognized as its architect.
Operation Flood is the program behind "the white revolution." It created a national milk grid linking producers throughout India with consumers in over 700 towns and cities, reducing seasonal and regional price variations while ensuring that the producer gets a major share of the price consumers pay, by cutting out middlemen. The bedrock of Operation Flood has been village milk producers' co-operatives, which procure milk and provide inputs and services, making modern management and technology available to members. Operation Flood's objectives included:
Operation Flood was implemented in three phases.
Phase I (1970-1980) was financed by the sale of skimmed milk powder and butter oil donated by the European Economic Community through the World Food Program. NDDB planned the program and negotiated the details of EEC assistance. During this phase, Operation Flood linked 18 of India's premier milksheds with consumers in India's major metropolitan cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Assam and Chennai, establishing mother dairies in four metros. Operation Flood - It was originally meant to be completed in 1975, actually spanned the period of about nine years from 1970-89, at a total cost of Rs.116 crores. At the start of Operation Flood-I in 1970 certain aims were kept in view for the implementation of the programs: Improving the organized dairy sector in the metropolitan cities Mumbai (then Bombay), Kolkata (then Calcutta), Chennai (then Madras) and Delhi through marketing, increasing producers' share of the milk market, and speeding up development of dairy animals in rural areas to increase both production and procurement.
Operation Flood Phase II (1981-1985) increased the milk-sheds from 18 to 136; urban markets expanded the outlets for milk to 290. By the end of 1985, a self-sustaining system of 43,000 village cooperatives with 4,250,000 milk producers were covered. Domestic milk powder production increased from 22,000 tons in the pre-project year to 140,000 tons by 1989, all of the increase coming from dairies set up under Operation Flood. In this way EEC gifts and the World Bank loan helped promote self-reliance. Direct marketing of milk by producers' cooperatives increased by several million liters a day.
Phase III (1985-1996) enabled dairy cooperatives to expand and strengthen the infrastructure required to procure and market increasing volumes of milk. Veterinary first-aid health care services, feed and artificial insemination services for cooperative members were extended, along with intensified member education. Operation Flood's Phase III consolidated India's dairy cooperative movement, adding 30,000 new dairy cooperatives to the 43,000 existing societies organized during Phase II. Milk-sheds peaked at 173 in 1988-89 with the numbers of women members and Women's Dairy Cooperative Societies increasing significantly. Phase III increased emphasis on research and development in animal health and animal nutrition. Innovations like vaccine for Theileriosis, bypassing protein feed and urea-molasses mineral blocks, all contributed to the enhanced productivity of milk producing animals.
There were some distinctive features behind the success of 'Operation Flood':
Critics of the project argue that the emphasis on imported breeds of cattle has resulted in the decimation of Indian breeds; while foreign breeds give higher yields, they require more feed and are not suited to Indian conditions.