Union Cooperation Minister Amit Shah on Thursday announced a host of initiatives including setting up two national level multi state co-operatives, one for seeds and other for export. The government has also been working to allow co-operative major Nafed to bring into its fold village-level Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACS).

Addressing a two-day National Conference of State Co-operation Ministers in Delhi, Shah said an export house is being set up by Amul, IFFCO, NAFED, NCDC and Kribhco, which will export khadi products, handicrafts and agriculture products to the world market. “The decision may help the government to fill the void with the decision to dispense with State-owned trading firms,” said an official.

“To export the product of the smallest co-operative unit, it will become a multi-state co-operative export house and this itself will take it further,” Shah said.

Further, he also announced that the government would form a Multi State Co-operative in area of seed production in next two months. “We are going to form a multi state cooperative — Seed Production Co-operative which will also do research and development (R&D), promote and preserve seed breeds and create new breeds,” he said. For this, the government will merge four or five big co-operatives at the national level, he added.

Organic products

“There is a demand for organic products all over the world, but we do not have a system of certification. For its marketing and export, under the leadership of Amul, we are going to form a co-operative to certify and market organic products, which will be a multi-state cooperative, in which all States will be connected,” Shah said.

The Minister further said that with an objective of changing the entire face of NAFED, the government wants it to actively integrate the PACS with marketing and the entire marketing profit will eventually reach the PACS.

“For so many changes, trained manpower, youth who know cooperative finance, youth who know computer, youth who imbibe the concept of co-operatives are needed. If trained man power is needed then today there is not even a single cooperative university and now the government has decided that a co-operative university will be formed and under the aegis of the state co-operative union, we will also open one affiliated college in every State so that different types of cooperatives will be able to train man power,” Shah announced. “We will also take this co-operative university to the districts,” he added.

PACS, which are engaged only in disbursing short term credit, should also be able to disburse medium and long term finance as well, even though they have to do so through the State level cooperative bank, the minister suggested. The Centre is also going to create a permanent database and this data bank will be updated regularly, he said.

Co-operative policy

The new co-operative policy should be framed to ensure all round development of co-operative sector in all states and Union Territories, and also identify new areas, he said highlighting the appointment of a panel under former minister Suresh Prabhu to draft the policy.

The importance of the co-operative sector in very crucial since 51 per cent villages and 94 per cent farmers are associated with co-operatives in some form or the other. The co-operative sector disburses 20 per cent of the total agricultural credit, 35 per cent of the fertiliser distribution is done by it, 25 per cent of fertiliser production, 31 per cent of sugar production, more than 10 per cent of milk production, more than 13 per cent procurement of wheat and more than 20 per cent of paddy is done by the co-operative sector. As high as 21 per cent of the fisheries sector turnover is shared by co-operative societies.