Amit Shah: Govt to set up 2 national-level multi-state cooperatives for seeds, and exports.
Thursday, Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah announced a number of plans, including the creation of two national-level multi-state cooperatives, one for seeds and the other for exports. The government has also been trying to make it possible for the largest cooperative, Nafed, to include village-level Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS) in its organisation.
Shah spoke at a two-day National Conference of State Co-operation Ministers in Delhi. He said that Amul, IFFCO, NAFED, NCDC, and Kribhco are setting up an export house that will send khadi products, handicrafts, and agricultural goods to the rest of the world. An official said, ‘The decision may help the government fill the void left by the decision to get rid of State-owned trading firms.’
Shah said, ‘In order to export the product of the smallest co-op unit, it will become a multi-state co-op export house, which will help it go even further.’
He also said that in the next two months, the government would set up a Multi-State Co-operative for seed production. ‘We are going to start a multi-state cooperative called Seed Production Co-operative. It will do research and development (R&D), promote and preserve seed breeds, and create new breeds,’ he said. He also said that four or five big co-ops will be merged at the national level by the government.
‘Organic products are wanted all over the world, but we don’t have a way to make sure they are safe. Under the leadership of Amul, we are going to set up a multi-state co-op to certify and market organic products. All states will be connected to this co-op, which will be used for marketing and export,’ Shah said.
The Minister also said that the government wants NAFED to actively integrate the PACS with marketing and that all of the profit from marketing will eventually go to the PACS. The goal is to change NAFED’s whole look.
‘For so many changes, we need trained people, young people who know about cooperative finance, young people who know how to use computers, and young people who understand the idea of cooperatives. If trained workers are needed, there isn’t even one cooperative university yet. The government has decided to open one, and Shah said, ‘We will also open one affiliated college in every state so that different kinds of cooperatives can train workers. This cooperative university will also go to the districts,’ he said.
The minister said that PACS, which only gives out short-term loans, should also be able to give out medium-term and long-term loans, even if they have to do so through the State level cooperative bank. He also said that the Center is going to make a permanent database that will be regularly updated.
He said that a panel led by former minister Suresh Prabhu had been put together to write the new co-operative policy. The panel’s job was to make sure that the co-operative sector grew in all states and Union Territories and to find new areas for growth.
The co-operative sector is very important because 51% of villages and 94% of farmers are involved in some way. The co-operative sector gives out 20% of all agricultural loans, distributes 35% of fertiliser, makes 25% of fertiliser, makes 31% of sugar, makes more than 10% of milk, buys more than 13% of wheat, and more than 20% of paddy. Co-operative societies share up to 21% of the turnover in the fishing industry.