NCUI Haat: Strengthening the Cooperative Brand
NCUI Haat will be inaugurated on 16 August 2021, and will host exhibitions of products of cooperatives/Self-Help Groups (SHGs) all over the country all the year round. This initiative is based on a strong conviction that there is a need to showcase the products of lesser-known coops/SHGs at the national level through exhibition.
In a major initiative for popularizing cooperative model amongst all sections of the society through display/sale of unique cooperative products, the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI), an apex organization of the cooperative movement, is involved in active preparations for setting up a Cooperative Craft Centre (NCUI Haat) in the premises of its headquarters at New Delhi. NCUI Haat, one of its kind, will be inaugurated on 16 August 2021, and will host exhibitions of products of cooperatives/Self-Help Groups (SHGs) all over the country all the year round. This initiative is based on a strong conviction that there is a need to showcase the products of lesser-known coops/SHGs at the national level through an exhibition, which can not only offer good markets for such products but also encourage them to undertake skill up-gradation so as to come up with innovative products of all types.
Many of the cooperatives, more particularly of women as well as SHGs, face a lot of problems of marketing, as they are not getting the right price for their products because they are exploited by middlemen. The vision of the Coop Haat is to make sincere efforts to fulfil the business aspirations of cooperatives that have low visibility, and highlight their immense business potential so as to bring them into the cooperative mainstream, which can not only open new gateways for their growth and development but also build up, in general, the image of the cooperative movement. This will also be a humble step in boosting the morale of such cooperatives and empowering them in a truly cooperative spirit. NCUI Haat also promises to be an effective platform for communicating the business strength of the cooperative model to the youth, who are generally not aware of the good work of cooperatives.
With more than eight lakh cooperatives covering all areas of socio-economic activities, with 90 per cent coverage in the villages, the cooperative movement in India is the largest in the world. While dairy cooperatives have ushered in the milk revolution in the country, and Amul as a renowned cooperative milk brand has earned global fame, the fertilizer cooperatives like IFFCO and KRIBHCO have also gained worldwide recognition in the production, distribution and marketing of fertilizers. The primary level cooperatives like Uralungul Labour Contract Cooperative Society, Mulkanoor Cooperative Rural Bank and many others have strengthened the cooperative movement at the grassroots levels in the rural areas.
Despite commendable growth of the cooperative movement in all areas of socio-economic activities and the business diversification of cooperatives in new areas, there are many smaller-level cooperatives/primary agriculture cooperatives/SHGs in the country who, due to poor support mechanisms, have failed to compete in the market economy despite having value-added products. Because of their poor marketing and weak communication strategies, these cooperatives are far from the spotlight of attention, and their success stories are not highlighted, due to which such cooperatives feel de-motivated to expand their business. Against this backdrop, NCUI’s initiative in setting up the NCUI Haat is indeed timely.
A calendar of events has been prepared for the NCUI Haat, under which the cooperative organizations/SHGs of all states will be given exposure to display their wide-ranging products over the year. Initially, six states have been picked up, and over a period of time, more states will join to exhibit their cooperative products at the NCUI Haat. The SHGs under NCUI Cooperative Education Field Projects will also get an opportunity to exhibit their products at the NCUI Haat. Around 3600 SHGs have been formed to date that are working under the supervision of 41 Cooperative Education Field Projects across India. The projects help in enhancing the earning capacity of members of SHGs and also provide them hand-holding support so that they convert themselves into successful cooperative societies.
The NCUI Cooperative Education Field Project officials are upbeat that now they have an opportunity to sell their products at the national level, which they feel is a recognition of their hard work and toil in motivating the deprived sections of the society in the rural areas to come up with products which can be a good source for their income generation. In recent years, the products of SHGs under NCUI Cooperative Education Field Projects have become popular; for example, namkeen, besan, spices, mushroom, honey, artificial jewellery, toran (home decorative item in Gujarat), and handicraft products of varied types. These products now get a chance to expand their horizons from a localized concentration to the national level with many possibilities of a multitude of new avenues opening for them.
The NCUI has allotted an adequate budget for skill upgradation of the SHG members under the educational field projects. The SHG members need the training to learn new skills for improving the design and quality of their products, competitive pricing and accessing digital marketing platforms so as to reach out to a large segment of national and international buyers. With the opening of the NCUI Haat, the avenues of collaborations with reputed design and digital organizations will open up so that the products made by SHG members get a major facelift in terms of quality and value.
In recent months, besides taking steps for opening the NCUI Haat under new initiatives, NCUI is also involved in doing the groundwork for undertaking a major project related to assessing the share of cooperatives in the GDP of the country, an important issue that has been neglected till date, and due to which there is no clarity regarding the contributions of cooperatives to the national economy. Besides this, NCUI is actively involved in forging collaborations with skill development organizations so that the new Skill Development Centre recently inaugurated at the Noida campus becomes operational to serve as a centre of excellence for skill-based training in the cooperative sector. NCUI has also recently taken timely steps to take a lead in sensitizing all cooperative organizations to take active steps for strengthening their social media platforms for the image-building of the cooperative movement.
In the end, I appeal to all of you to visit the NCUI Haat Centre, buy cooperative products and experience their uniqueness and difference.
(Dr Sudhir Mahajan, IAS (Retd), is the Chief Executive of NCUI. The views expressed here are his own.)