A national database on cooperatives has been initiated by the Ministry of Cooperation for single-point access to information on cooperatives of different sectors and develop a process for better understanding of cooperatives. The proposed database shall facilitate all stakeholders in policy-making and implementation to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country. In the first phase of development of National Cooperative Database, data collection of cooperatives of three sectors — primary agricultural credit societies, dairy and fisheries — is being taken up.

The recently announced National Geospatial Policy 2022 provides the framework to develop geospatial infrastructure, skills and knowledge, standards and businesses. By 2030, the government will look to establish an Integrated Data and Information Framework, under which a Geospatial Knowledge Infrastructure (GKI) will be developed. A high-resolution topographical survey and mapping as well as a high-accuracy Digital Elevation Model for the entire country will be developed by 2035.

The national database for cooperatives needs to have geospatial database creation with geo-referencing of cooperative societies to make a decision-support model.

Spatial distribution

The distribution of cooperative societies reflects polarisation of societies in a few States in the west and south while the number of cooperatives societies in the east and northern parts are low. The cooperative movement is all set for acceleration of membership. The plan of acceleration requires an understanding of the heterogeneity and diversity in spatial distribution.

We see contrasts like nil dairy cooperatives in the North-East States of Manipur, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, while Sikkim is better positioned. Fisheries cooperatives are also formed around inland water resources in contrast to coastal line in the western and eastern parts of the country.

It is essential to map these contrasting diversities and analyse the reasons, which could be resource base of the State. Statistics indicate that Maharashtra has the highest number of cooperative societies, followed by Uttar Pradesh. The maximum number of cooperatives are in the field of credit, agro, housing, multi-purpose and dairying. It is essential to undertake research on the major parameters that contribute to the development of such societies and their distribution in specific regions.

District-wise mapping of cooperatives along with database collection is essential to provide a more precise picture of cooperatives at the State and national levels. The advanced geospatial tools and technologies will help in predicting, analysing, modelling, and visualizing spatially explicit information.

Thematic GIS mapping along with research and analysis of the distribution of cooperative societies is to be committed towards addressing the developmental issues at the grassroots level. PACS serve as a micro-level database for the planners and administrators. And as these are being computerised, they can be further integrated with geospatial analysis for querying, analysing and displaying datasets in the form of graphs and summarised tabular data for all cooperatives.

The geospatial techniques have the potential to be utilised to conduct in-depth mapping and analysis which will be of immense help to planners, managers and administrators in quick storing, retrieving and updating the required information for the management of cooperatives.

The geospatial mapping of the cooperative ecosystem will generate ease of doing business outcomes and enhane the cooperative movement’s visibility, networking and partnership opportunities

Hema is Director and Mahesh is Associate Professor, VAMNICOM, Pune. Monika is Professor of GIS, Sophia Girls College, Ajmer