COOPEXCIL can help young entrepreneurs export value-added products
The first GBM of COOPEXCIL was held in New Delhi on March 24. Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said that cooperative societies could be the instrument of rural development, particularly agriculture, even as he noted that these entities were yet to catch the fancy of the youth and there was a need to attract them into this model.
The first general body meeting (GBM) of the Cooperative Sector Exports Promotion Council (COOPEXCIL) was held in New Delhi on March 24. The first-ever COOPEXCIL has been set up under the stewardship of the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), a cooperative-focused financial organization under the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, to show direction to the cooperatives in exporting their value-added products.
Addressing the GBM, the chief guest Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala said that cooperative societies could be the instrument of rural development, particularly agriculture, even as he noted that these entities were yet to catch the fancy of the youth and there was a need to attract them into this model.
“Numerous economic opportunities are available for the youth in the cooperative sector. But not many are coming forward. They think that cooperatives are some old-fashioned concept run by elderly people. It is our responsibility to introspect how to make them part of the cooperatives, which hold huge potential to push the country's economic growth.”
National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) President Dileep Sanghani added that cooperative should be taken up as a movement so that local people are economically empowered to attain the dream of AtmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India).
Rupala also felt that cooperatives can play a significant role in achieving India's target of becoming a US$ 5-trillion economy by 2024-25 as envisioned by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Cooperatives of all types have a big role in the achievement of this target. Our farmers have proved it time and again, particularly during the pandemic, that their contribution to the GDP has been the best,” he said.
The Minister urged the NCDC to consider handholding of Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) being set up by the Government with an aim to aid small and marginal farmers to aggregate the produce with the help of better access to technology, input, finance and market. “We have to see the context of setting up of 10,000 FPOs by our Government. The FPOs formed as cooperatives should also be facilitated by COOPEXCIL,” he said.
Sanjay Agrawal, Secretary, Agriculture, said that the gains from the first-ever India International Cooperatives Trade Fair (IICTF) held in October 2019 need to be fully exploited to benefit the farmers in cooperatives. He suggested a broad-based approach to involve all types of cooperatives in exports.
According to government data, around 94 per cent of the farmers in India are members of one or more cooperatives. The IICTF aimed to promote cooperative trade within India and abroad while increasing exports of key agricultural commodities, leading to increased incomes for farmers.
Noting that Indian agriculture continues to be the backbone of the society, providing livelihood to nearly 50 percent of our population, Rupala pointed out that the agriculture sector contributes more than 10 per cent of India’s exports. “Our Agriculture Export Policy of 2018 aims at doubling the agricultural exports and integrating Indian farmers and agricultural products with the global value chains,” he added.
“I am told that the NCDC had organized a national-level consultation on 16 May 2019 with stakeholders from all States who concluded that the NCDC should form a cooperative sector exports promotion body under its institutional stewardship to promote exports of cooperatives produces to achieve higher price realization,” said Rupala.
It was on July 2, 2019, that Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar and Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal had announced the formation of an export promotion body for the cooperative sector by NCDC at a joint press conference in New Delhi.
As exports promotion activity for cooperatives, NCDC, with the support of one international organization, Network for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC), three Ministries, four State Governments and several apex-level Indian cooperative organizations, successfully organized the India International Cooperatives Trade Fair (IICTF) in October 2019. The Trade Fair, held at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, witnessed a footfall of more than 35,000 visitors and was attended by around 125 foreign buyers. It witnessed the signing of 75 business agreements valued at around US$ 1.2 billion.
The grand success of the Trade Fair necessitated the early operationalization of COOPEXCIL, Rupala further said at the meeting, which was attended offline and online by representatives and officials from various cooperatives across the country and abroad. The Minister also advised the General Body of COOPEXCIL, which has representation from all stakeholders like APEDA, MPEDA, IFFCO, NAFED, TRIFED etc, to have an advisory body and its own Secretary-General and Secretariat, with NCDC playing the role of promoter of the body and to make its resources available to the Council.
Lauding NCDC’s role in promoting cooperatives across the country through financing, the Minister said that the NCDC has supported cooperatives with financial assistance to the tune of Rs 1.76 lakh crore since its inception. NCDC has recently taken many other initiatives such as Yuva Sahakar, Sahakar Mitra, Ayushman Sahakar, Sahakar Pragya etc, to address the needs of the cooperatives operating in various sectors.
“I would advise the NCDC to come up with Niryat Sahakar scheme to finance cooperatives to address their needs,” the Minister suggested and hoped that the COOPEXCIL would work towards achieving the objective of the country in exports front.
Acknowledging the support of all partners, Sundeep Nayak, Managing Director of the NCDC, said that the Council would play the role of facilitator for cooperatives to export their products. The youth-targeted program of NCDC, Yuva Sahakar, will be a key driver, he added.