President calls for rejuvenating cooperative farm movement

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New Delhi, Jan 21 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today called for rejuvenating the cooperative movement in the country by making cooperatives well-governed and financially well-managed institutions through greater professionalism.

Addressing the delegates to the 15th Indian Cooperative Congress organised by National Cooperative Union of India, she said it was necessary to have dynamic leadership, committed professionals and well-trained staff so that credibility of the institution could be built and the organisation run on sound managerial principles.

In a fast globalising world order, the challenge for the cooperatives was to adapt to new requirements by sharpening their core competencies and devise market-driven business strategies and improve their competitiveness to face competition from multi-nationals and corporate giants.

In India which had witnessed high economic growth, farmers, growers, artisans, handloom weavers, producers and women needed the support of the cooperative movement to participate in economic activities.

The National Policy on Cooperatives, the President said, encourages the cooperative movement to run on professional lines and to function democratically so that cooperatives can become self-sufficient and economically viable organisations.

While the number of cooperatives in the country had increased from 1.8 lakh in 1950-51 to 5.5 lakh and the total membership of cooperative societies had risen from 1.55 crore to 20.4 crore, farm cooperatives were facing a decline at a time when their presence was most needed, the President said and suggested farm cooperatives go beyond their traditional role by meeting the credit needs of farmers as also providing guidance and becoming more agriculturist friendly.

''The cooperative movement in India is now more than a hundred years old. Our founding fathers envisioned that cooperatives would play a very important role in our development process,'' she said.

Cooperatives have been operating in various areas of the economy such as credit, agriculture production, processing, marketing, housing, dairy and textiles.

Drawing attention to the fact that the cooperative movement started in response to the problem of rural indebtedness of farmers in the late 19th century, Ms Patil said it was necessary for these bodies to come together and pool their meagre resources for solving problems of credit supply of inputs and marketing of agriculture produce.

Noting that the environment in which cooperatives worked had changed but their relevance and role remained, she said the NCUI had done commendable work and recalled her own association as a governing council member with NCUI.

Greater participation was needed of women and youth in the movement, she said, adding that empowerment of women through cooperatives was much talked about but ''we need to go a long way in making it a reality''.

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