Making a strong case for revival of the cooperative sector in the country, Reserve Bank of India Director Satish Marathe said that increasing minimum support price of agriculture produce alone will not improve the plight of the farming community.
The cooperative sector, he added, was essential to improve food processing industry and ensure that the farmers get due price of their produce.
“We only process 20 per cent of the farm produce, while in developed countries and in South East Asian nations as much as 80 per cent of the agriculture produce are processed,” he said, adding that “increasing in MSP alone will not improve the lot of farmers. We need to encourage cooperative sector..reactivate rural cooperatives”.
Marathe said this while delivering the second SopanStep Development Lecture on ‘Reforms in cooperatives, imperative to spread rural prosperity’ here on Saturday.
Patron of Sahakar Bharathi was appointed as part-time director on the board of the RBI last month along with S Gurumurthy, co-convenor of RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagran Manch.
Marathe further said that efforts were needed to persuade the Centre as well as state governments to amend all laws and rules in line with the 97th Constitutional Amendment, which, besides other things, made the right to form cooperative a fundamental right.
The 97th Constitutional Amendment was aimed at freeing cooperatives from bureaucratic control and ensuring democratic and autonomous functioning through regular elections.
One of the big problems being faced by the cooperative sector is lack of data, Marathe said, adding “one does not know the contribution of the cooperative sector to the GDP. This data is not there with Central Statistics Office (CSO)”.
The availability of data on contribution of cooperative sector to the economy will make the task of advocates of cooperative sector easier, he said, adding that “the cooperatives should be viewed as economic entities and not as business enterprises going all out to maximize profits”.
The cooperatives world over have helped in ensuring that essential commodities reach everyone at reasonable prices, he said, stressing in India it is “imperative to strengthen cooperative sector legally and financially”.
Revival of cooperative must for improving farm sector: RBI director Satish Marathe
Speaking on the occasion, Iffco managing director U S Awasthi attributed the ills of the cooperative sector to bureaucratic control.
Several cooperatives have done very good work which was needed to be emulated and carried forward, the IFFCO chief said, adding that “there is need to look at the whole sector with an open mind” and not to highlight the bad work done by few.
The cooperatives, he said, were also making efforts to encourage women participation in the cooperative movement through reservation.
Awasthi also expressed hope that with the passage of time more youngsters will see merit in cooperative and use it as a vehicle to promote economic activity.