Banking on Rural Odisha

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Bishnupada Sethi
Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Department of Co-operation;
Department of Fisheries and Animal Resources Development
Government of Odisha, Management in-Charge, Odisha State
Co-operative Bank Ltd

“The e-Governance initiatives of the Government are now yielding desired results. By deploying new ICT systems, the Cooperation Department is enabling a large chunk of the rural population to avail their entitlements in an easy and transparent manner,” says Bishnupada Sethi

Please give us the overview of the operations of Department of Cooperation. Also tell us about your vision for strengthening Cooperative Movement in the State.
The Department of Cooperation has been created to formulate policies and to take developmental initiatives for furtherance of the Cooperative Movement in the State. The Cooperative Movement is the peoples’ movement and it owes its origin to the early part of the 20th Century. The movement was initiated by the then British Government with promulgation of the Cooperative Societies Act in 1904. Although the Act aimed at organization of Cooperative Credit Societies to emancipate the debt ridden farmers from the clutches of money lenders through Self Help, the movement has by now encompassed almost all economic activities pursued by the Government. After independence of the Country, the All India Rural Credit Survey Committee emphasized on strengthening of the Cooperative Movement through State patronization to utilize the outreach for transformation of the financial conditions of the rural people. Since then, the Cooperative Movement has undergone a lot of experimentation by way of supplementing the efforts through nationalization of Banks, creation of specialised credit delivery agency like Regional Rural Banks but till date, a large chunk of the rural population depend upon the cooperatives to pursue their livelihood.

So what is being done to ensure banking and financial services in rural Odisha?
In our State, around 65 percent of the crop loans and 50 percent of the total agricultural credit are dispensed through the Short Term Cooperative Credit Structure led by the Odisha State Cooperative Bank. The Odisha State Cooperative Marketing Federation supplies around 40 percent of the agricultural inputs in the State. The Weavers Cooperative Societies provide yarn and wages to the weaving community and market their clothes. Since around 66 percent of the population depends upon agriculture and 86% of the farmers are categorized as small and marginal farmers, they depend upon the cooperatives to get credit, agricultural inputs and Minimum Support Price for their agricultural commodities. The Cooperation Department has a larger role to play in the years to come to protect the interest of the rural population and also prepare innovative initiatives to improve their quality of life.

What are the financial inclusion initiatives taken by the Odisha State Cooperative Bank?
The Odisha State Cooperative Bank (OSCB) is the Apex Organisation of the Short Term Cooperative Credit Structure and it leads 17 Central Cooperative Banks (CCBs) in the State and 2714 Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS). The Government has been implementing all its policy initiatives through the OSCB over the years. From out of 55 lakh agricultural families in the State, around 52 lakh families have become members of the PACS and the OSCB has facilitated issue of around 42 lakh Kisan Credit Cards to provide hassle free credit to the farmers.

Main objectives OF The Department of Cooperation in Odisha

*
Endeavouring to provide timely and adequate bank credit to farmers for financing their agricultural and allied activities* Supply of inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides and seeds to the farmers* Administering the Crop Insurance Scheme to provide relief to farmers in the event of crop failure.* Providing marketing support to farmers by way of bringing about the integrated development of marketing of agricultural produce to safeguard the economic interests of the farming community.* Providing infrastructure for storage of agricultural produce through organizations like the Odisha State Warehousing Corporation (OSWC) and the Odisha State Marketing Federation (MARKFED).* Providing credit facilities for housing through house building co-operatives in both the rural and urban areas.* Imparting co-operative education and training to office bearers and members of cooperative societies for strengthening the co-operative movement in the State.

How is the Bank using ICT to expand banking and financial services throughout the State?
In order to accomplish the objectives, the Government has taken so many ICT initiatives through the Odisha State Cooperative Bank. Establishment of a Core Banking Data Management Centre (CBDMC) in the Odisha State Cooperative Bank is one the major initiatives in terms of ICT. CBDNC provides connectivity to the OSCB, DCCBs and their branches along with the PACS under one platform with the objective of catering to the requirements of the agricultural families. Digitalisation of Kisan Credit Cards provides access to the farm families to avail credit facilities through the ATM network of all the Banks through the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI) financial Switch. We have ensured Mobile ATM facilities in the tribal areas to provide cash component of the loans sanctioned in favour of the members of the PACS at their doorstep. We are providing access to the customers of the OSCB, CCBs and Urban Cooperative Banks to the ATMs under NPCI through issue of RuPay Cards.

Initiatives for bringing good governance to the PACS

* State wide campaign to sensitise the agricultural families to become members of the PACS and to avail the facilities provided.

* Issue of Kisan Credit Cards to all eligible agricultural families. l Organisation of Self Help Groups of the farm families, who do not have own land to provide credit facilities to them.
* Installation of Agro Service Centres to provide custom hiring facilities for mechanization of agriculture.*Installation of Soil Testing Laboratories in the PACS to sensitise the farmers to use agricultural inputs only after testing the soil for increasing production and productivity.*Construction of rural godowns in the PACS for storage and marketing of agricultural produce.* Procurement of paddy from the farmers by the PACS as agent of the Odisha State Civil Supplies Corporation to ensure MSP.* Establishment of market yards through the Regional Marketing Committees (RMCs).* Establishment of Common Service Centres at all the PACS.

As one of the leaders in Governance space how do you foresee the development of e-Governance within Odisha in coming years?
The e-Governance initiative of the Government has already started yielding desired results. The ICT initiative of the Cooperation Department would facilitate a large chunk of the rural population to get the benefits of the new governance structure. The PACS have already started establishing Common Service Centres to provide all the facilities under the Government initiative to its members. The farm families will be greatly benefited by getting hassle free credit from the ATMs and PoS, which are going to be networked within a period of two years. With financial inclusion meant for the farmers of the State, the credit delivery and procurement of farm produce will become highly transparent and the Governance Structure would provide the desired benefits to the people of the State.

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