Union Home Affairs and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah is expected to hold a two-day national brainstorming session from April 12-13 to formulate a policy for the country’s cooperative sector, a senior official said on Friday. close to the file.
Shah had previously said that the Narendra Modi government planned to make changes to the laws governing the cooperative sector. In July 2021, Prime Minister Modi had reshuffled his cabinet and created a ministry of cooperation separate from the ministry of agriculture.
The Ministry of Cooperation will host the conference to meet with key officials and experts, who will weigh in on necessary measures to boost cooperatives in a bid to achieve a $5 trillion saving, the official said.
Cooperatives are essentially collectives of small producers who pool their resources to achieve scale and collective bargaining power in markets.
A key initiative in the works is a digital cooperative database, which will help reshape a sector.
The move aims to help reposition co-ops as business entities with an online presence. A national database is also needed to formulate an upcoming new policy for cooperatives, the official added, requesting anonymity.
Although there are some iconic cooperative enterprises in the country, such as the dairy giant Amul, Lijjat Papad and the big fertilizer company IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative), the sector is in many areas hampered by inefficiencies and systems. opaque clientelism.
According to an official familiar with the subject, the conference will focus on six topics: the life cycle of cooperatives, facets of their activities, governance, legal framework, identification of regulatory policy and operational obstacles to increase ease of doing business.
“Reforms to strengthen governance, including cooperative principles, transparency and regular elections are some of the themes of the conference,” the official said.
India’s cooperative sector is the largest in the world, covering almost 98% of the countryside, with more than 900,000 societies comprising around 290 million people, according to data from the National Cooperative Union of India.
Along with the technical framework, the government is also likely to make statutory changes in the cooperative sector.
Primary Farm Credit Societies (PACS) will be a key area of the digitization push, officials said. PACS are last mile institutions at the village or district level that provide agricultural credit to millions of farmers.
A national software platform, which will be available in local languages, will link PACS, district cooperative banks and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD), potentially creating an integrated financial grid. The digital database aims to increase its reach and transparency.