Cabinet approves strengthening of cooperative movement, deepening its reach up to grassroots

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Representational Image: PTI

New Delhi: With the aim to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country and deepening its reach up to the grassroots, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the setting up of a new Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) in two lakh panchayats in the next five years.

"Ministry of Cooperation has formulated a plan to establish viable Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) in each uncovered Panchayat, viable dairy cooperatives in each uncovered Panchayat and village and viable fishery cooperatives in each coastal Panchayat and village as well as Panchayat and village having large water bodies," a statement from Ministry of Cooperation said.

The cabinet meeting was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

Initially, two lakh PACS, dairy and fishery cooperatives would be established in the next five years.

The plan is also to establish and strengthen the existing PACS, dairy and fishery cooperatives through the convergence of various Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying schemes by leveraging the 'whole-of-Government' approach.

"The action plan for implementation of the project shall be prepared by NABARD, National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and National Fishery Development Board (NFDB)," it said.

The schemes identified for convergence under the current plan are linked to the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying and the Department of Fisheries

Under the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, there is National Programme for Dairy Development (NPDD), and Dairy Processing and Infrastructure Development Fund (DIDF)

However, under the Department of Fisheries, there is a convergence plan of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY), and Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development (FIDF).

This would provide the farmer members all over the country with requisite forward and backward linkages to market their produce, enhance their income, and obtain credit facilities and other services at the village level itself, mentions the statement.

"Those primary cooperative societies which cannot be revived will be identified for winding up, and new primary cooperative societies would be established in their area of operation," it further said.

Further, establishing new PACS, dairy and fishery cooperative societies would generate employment opportunities in rural areas, which would have a multiplier effect on the rural economy.

"The plan would also enable farmers to realize better prices for their products, expand the size of their markets and weave them seamlessly into the supply chain."

A high-level Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) under the chairmanship of the Home and Cooperation Minister with Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare; Minister for Fishery, Animal Husbandry and Dairying; Secretaries concerned; Chairman NABARD, NDDB and Chief Executive NFDB, as members has been constituted and empowered to take necessary steps, including suitable modifications in the guidelines of the schemes identified for convergence, for smooth implementation of the plan.

Committees at National, State and District levels have also been constituted to ensure the focused and effective execution of the action plan.

In order to increase the viability of PACS and diversify their business activities to make them vibrant economic entities at the Panchayat level, model bylaws of PACS have been prepared by the Ministry after consultation with all the stakeholders.

These Model bye-laws of PACS will enable them to undertake more than 25 business activities which, inter alia, include dairy, fishery, setting up of godowns, procurement of foodgrains, fertilisers, seeds, LPG/CNG/Petrol/Diesel distributorship, short-term & long-term credit, custom hiring centres, common service centres, Fair Price Shops, community irrigation, Business Correspondent activities, Common Service Centre, etc. The model bye laws have been circulated to all the states and Union Territories (UTs) on January 5 this year 2023 for their adoption by PACS after making suitable changes as per respective State Cooperative Acts.

A national cooperative database is also being prepared by the Ministry of Cooperation where country-wide mapping of cooperatives at the Panchayat and village level is being carried out with the support of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies of states and UTs, states the Cooperation Ministry.

"A comprehensive database of PACS has been developed in January 2023 and a database of primary dairy and fishery cooperative societies would be developed by the end of February," it added.

"This exercise would provide a list of Panchayats and villages not served by PACS, dairy and fishery cooperative societies. The national cooperative database and the online central portal would be utilised for real-time monitoring of the formation of new cooperative societies."

PACS, dairy and cooperative fishery societies would be linked with their respective District and State level Federations. By leveraging the 'whole-of-Government' approach, these societies will be able to set up and modernise necessary infrastructure for diversifying their activities, like milk testing laboratories, bulk milk coolers, milk processing units, construction of bio floc ponds, fish kiosks, development of hatcheries and acquiring deep sea fishing vessels.

PACS, around 98,995 in number and having a member base of 13 crores, constitute the lowest tier of the Short-Term Cooperative Credit (STCC) structure in the country, providing short-term and medium-term credit and other input services, like seed, fertiliser, pesticide distribution, etc. to member farmers.

These are refinanced by NABARD through 352 District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) and 34 State Cooperative Banks (StCBs).

Primary dairy cooperative societies, around 1,99,182 in number and having around 1.5 crore members, are engaged in the procurement of milk from the farmers, providing milk testing facilities, cattle feed sale and extension services, to the members.

However, there are still 1.6 lakh Panchayats without PACS and nearly 2 lakh Panchayats without any dairy cooperative society.


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