Cooperative sector has played a phenomenal role in bolstering socio- economic development of Punjab. The sector has turned out to be a key instrument of the state to develop and sustain its rural economy. Priya Yadav of Elets News Network (ENN) writes about cooperative banks providing easy credit to farmers and benefitting educated unemployed youth by launching self employment schemes through cooperative societies
Punjab, essentially an agricultural state, has seen a massive transformation, especially in the rural areas, courtesy the cooperative movement. It is credited with the force that made the green revolution in the country’s food bowl a success.
The role of cooperative sector can never be over stated in the agrarian state for it supplies agricultural credit and funds to small farmers. Also it has an immense potential to deliver services and goods in critical areas where both the government and the private sector have failed to make any impression.
The cooperative movement in Punjab has a solid base as there are over 60,000 societies that have a total turnover of around four billion US dollars. The societies are not just providing credit but imparting skills and knowledge about new technologies as well.
It is not just the funds and credit supplied by the cooperative sector that have come to the aid of debt ridden farmers in the state but it is the knowledge exchange, awareness drives and education imparted about various initiatives and good practices that have proved invaluable to the farmers’ success.
For long now the emphasis of the cooperative movement in Punjab has been on reducing the cost of production as also enhancing the per unit productivity level. For this elaborate exercises are being arranged and conducted across the rural landscape with an aim to create awareness about ways to reduce the cost of cultivation. Equally important is how to rationalise the resources available with the state. This is of particular importance as Punjab has been reporting exorbitant rise in cost of cultivation which is aggravating the debt problem.
Punjab has been paying a heavy price for being the country’s food bowl as aggressive farming, especially of water-intensive crops like paddy, has been taking a toll on the state’s water table that has been steadily declining. It has now acquired frightening proportions with underground water plunging to several hundred feet at a large number of places.
The agriculture experts have been for long now emphasising on the need to educate the farmers for taking steps to stop soil degradation, water depletion and the cooperative movement has been focussing on the supply of the inputs which are considered very crucial for the agriculture sector.
The easy availability of credit, courtesy the strong cooperative movement, has enabled farmers to get an access and knowledge about new technologies in agriculture and learn about the much needed alternative farming. The state government has been trying to wean the farmers from paddy farming which essentially consumes great deal of water. Exotic vegetables and farming of exotic fruits is being promoted aggressively and the cooperative societies are increasingly focussing on promoting these among farmers in far flung areas.
Cooperative Banks are not just providing credit easily to farmers but also benefitting educated unemployed youth by launching self employment schemes through the cooperative societies. Even though the unemployment ratio is high yet there is a vast scope of bringing it down by improving the scope of employment. A high level of dedication is required to bring about desirable changes.
It is estimated that about three lakh farmers in Punjab have per capita five acres of land and with outreach programmes a large number of employment opportunities can be created. Cooperatives are employing more than 10 million people across the world and in Punjab there is a huge scope for students of BSc Agriculture and those who have pursued MBA in Agri Business Management as they can get absorbed in a number of cooperative societies like Markfed and Milkfed in Punjab, which have a huge presence. Apart from these cooperative banks and housing federations too have a huge potential in providing jobs. Agriculture continues to be an extremely important sector of India’s economy and the cooperative movement has a crucial role to play in bringing about its transformation.
Punjab is known not just for its agriculture but dairy farming is a huge sector in itself with milk production being among the highest in the country. It is an important segment promoting economic development with cooperatives like Milkfed and the Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited boasting of impressive results.
Since their inception in 1973 these have made important contributions in promoting economic development, generating employment, making people in rural areas self sufficient by making provisions in a way that small and landless rural families are able to supply their milk with convenience to the urban consumers with the help of cooperative Unions.
The Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited popularly known as MILKFED Punjab, came into existence in 1973 with a twin objective of providing remunerative milk market to the Milk Producers in the State by value addition and marketing of produce on one hand and to provide technical inputs to the milk producers for enhancement of milk production on the other hand.
Milkfed achieved impressive Sales growth of 8.6 per cent during the year 2014-15 in comparison to previous year by increasing from Rs 2183.28 crores to Rs 2371.27 crores. It achieved CAGR of 11.7 per cent over the last five years. The Federation is anticipating sales turnover of Rs 2600 crores in the year 2015-16. The expected target is `2900 crores by the end of financial year 2016-17.
Milkfed has posted net profit of Rs 268 lakh during the year 2014-15 in comparison to profit of Rs 633.64 lakh during previous year. Milkfed and its affiliated Member Milk Unions together have earned net profit of Rs 1277 lakh during 2014- 15 against net profit of Rs 2345.56 lakh in previous year.
By adopting various focused strategies the Milkfed was able to procure on an average 12.75 lakh kg of Milk per day during the year 2014-15 against procurement of 11.60 lakh kg per day during the year 2013-14. Milkfed has set target of procuring on an average 14.00 lakh kg of milk per day during 2015-16 against which Milkfed has already procured on an average 11.86 lakh kgs of milk per day upto July, 2015.
In addition to milk procurement, processing and marketing of Milk and milk products, milkfed is providing technical input services to the farmers at their door steps enabling them to produce more milk at low cost. Milkfed has established its own Frozen Semen Station at Khanna.
The Punjab State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation Limited (Markfed) has been working with the objective to serve the farmers of the Punjab State and promoting Cooperative movement as per its bye-laws as approved and registered under the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act 1961.
Markfed being a State Apex Cooperative Society is striving to strengthen the Cooperative network and the farming community in Punjab. It was registered with a view to arrange timely & conomical inputs to the Farming community and to help them in Marketing of their produce; in September 1954 within 13 members,a share Capital of Rs 54,000/-, three employees and one bicycle.
Today, Markfed is Asia’s Largest Cooperative with more than 3000 Cooperative Societies as its members and about 2000 employees with an annual turnover of more than Rs 10000 crores.
Markfed today has a network of Manufacturing Units, Services Centres and offices spread throughout the State. It works with the objective to arrange timely & economical inputs to the Farming community through Cooperative and to help them in Marketing of their produce, to arrange timely & economical inputs like Fertilizers, Agro Chemicals, cattle feed etc
Markfed has various Agro processing units/plants in the State of Punjab for products like edible oils, Basmati & non -basmati rice, Sugar, Canned products & processed foods and Agro Chemicals.
Markfed has nine Soil and water testing Laboratories for helping the farmer make economical use of Fertilizer and choose proper crop cycle. Markfed has 17 Agro Service Centres for direct interface with the farmers in respect to the produce of Markfed units and for guidance with regard to Markfed activities.
Punjab is known not just for its agriculture but dairy farming is a huge sector in itself with milk production being among the highest in the country. It is an important segment promoting economic development with cooperatives like Milkfed and the Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Limited boasting of impressive results
Punjab State Cooperative Bank
It was established on 31st August, 1949 at Shimla and is a principle financing institution of the cooperative movement in Punjab. In 1951 its Head Office was shifted to Jalandhar from where it moved in 1963 to Chandigarh. In the cooperative Banking structure, the position of the Punjab State Cooperative Bank is extremely important as the whole credit system revolves around it.
It has 17 branches and 1 extension counters in Chandigarh. There are 20 District Central Cooperative Banks having 802 branches all over Punjab, mostly in rural areas of the State.