Indian Cooperative Congress: The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi addressed the 17th Indian Cooperative Congress at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi today on the occasion of International Day of Cooperatives. The main theme of the 17th Indian Cooperative Congress is ‘Amrit Kaal: Prosperity through Cooperation for a Vibrant India’. Shri Modi also launched E-Portals of e-Commerce website for Cooperative Marketing, and Cooperative Extension and Advisory Services Portal
Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister congratulated everyone on the occasion and said that the country is working towards the goal of a ‘Viksit and Atmanirbhar Bharat’. He reiterated the need for ‘Sabka Prayas’ (everyone’s effort) in achieving these goals where the spirit of cooperation sends the message of everyone’s effort. The Prime Minister noted the contributions of the dairy cooperative in making India the world’s leading milk producer and the role of cooperatives in making India one of the top sugar-producing countries in the world.
He underlined that cooperatives have become a huge support system for small farmers in many parts of the country. The Prime Minister also noted that the contribution of women in the dairy sector is approximately 60 percent. Hence, the Prime Minister continued, the government decided to strengthen the cooperative sector to achieve the goals of a Viksit Bharat. He informed that it was the first time that a separate ministry was formed and a budget was allocated for cooperatives, and as a result, the cooperatives are being presented with a platform exactly like the corporate sector. The Prime Minister also informed about the measures to strengthen cooperative societies and mentioned the reduction in tax rates. He also informed about the measures to strengthen cooperative banks and gave examples of flexibility in opening new branches and doorstep banking.
Noting the large number of farmers who were linked to the event, the Prime Minister dwelled on the measures undertaken for the farmer’s welfare in the last 9 years. He said, as opposed to the scarce support of the past, further reduced by the middlemen, now, crores of farmers are getting Kisan Samman Nidhi directly in their accounts. In the last 4 years 2.5 lakh crore rupees have been transferred under this scheme in a transparent manner, he said. He put things in perspective by telling the gathering that 2.5 lakh crore is a big amount if we consider the total agriculture budget of 5 years before 2014 which comes out to be less than 90 thousand rupees. This means that more than three times the total agriculture budget of those five years was spent on just one scheme.
The Prime Minister also elaborated on the ways of ensuring that farmers are not burdened by the increasing global fertilizer prices. He said that a farmer today pays about Rs 270 for a bag of urea whereas the same bag is priced at Rs 720 in Bangladesh, Rs 800 in Pakistan, Rs 2100 in China and Rs 3000 in the USA. “This shows what a guarantee looks like and what massive efforts are needed to change the lives of the farmers”, he said. The Prime Minister informed that in the last 9 years, more than Rs 10 lakh crore have been spent on just fertilizer subsidies.
Highlighting the seriousness of the government towards providing the right price to the farmers for their produce, the Prime Minister informed that the government bought the farmers’ produce at an increased MSP and handed out more than 15 lakh crores to the farmers in the last 9 years. “On average, the Government is spending more than 6.5 lakh crores yearly on agriculture and farmers”, Shri Modi said. “The government is making sure that every farmer in the country receives around 50 thousand rupees every year in some way or the other”, he asserted.
Continuing with the farmer welfare approach of the government, Shri Modi, informed about the recent package of Rs 3 lakh 70 Thousand crore and fair and remunerative price for the sugarcane farmers of Rs 315 per quintal. This will directly benefit 5 lakh sugarcane farmers and people working in sugar mills.
“India is known in the world for its digital transactions”, the Prime Minister remarked as he urged the cooperative societies and banks to stay ahead when it comes to digital transactions. He said that it will increase transparency and efficiency in the market while also enabling better competition.
Underlining that the main cooperative societies of the primary level or PACS will become a model for transparency, the Prime Minister informed that the computerization of more than 60,000 PACS is taking place. He stressed that cooperatives should make full use of the technology available to them and mentioned that the nation will hugely benefit from the acceptance of core banking and digital transactions by cooperative societies.
Referring to the ever-increasing record exports, the Prime Minister asked that cooperatives should also contribute in this regard. He said this is the reason behind the special promotion of the cooperatives related to manufacturing. Their tax burden has been reduced, he said. He especially mentioned the dairy sector for good export performance and emphasized the need to move with the resolution to fully harness the potential of our villages. He mentioned a new impetus for Shree Anna (millets) as an example of this resolution. He mentioned that in the recent State Dinner at the White House in the US, Shree Anna figured prominently. He exhorted cooperatives to take Indian Shree Anna to the global markets.
The Prime Minister elaborated on the measures taken to meet the challenges of the sugarcane farmers, especially about not getting remunerative prices and timely payment. Sugar mills were given a package of Rs 20,000 crore for clearing farmers\’ dues. Ethanol blending of petrol was prioritized and ethanol worth 70,000 crore rupees was purchased from the sugar mills in the last 9 years, he said. He also informed that taxes on higher sugarcane prices were also eliminated. Talking about the tax-related reforms, the Prime Minister informed about the 10,000 crore rupees support to the cooperative sugar mills in this Budget for settling the old dues. All these efforts are bringing lasting changes in the sector and strengthening it.
The Prime Minister pointed out that food security is not limited to wheat and rice and drew attention to the fact that India spends roughly 2 to 2.5 lakh crores on the import of edible oil, pulses, fish feed and processed food etc. He urged the farmers and cooperatives to work in this direction and make the nation Atmanirbhar in the production of edible oil. The Prime Minister highlighted that the Government has worked in mission mode and gave examples of Mission Palm Oil and initiatives towards increasing oil seeds production. He expressed confidence that the nation can become self-reliant in edible oil production when cooperatives will join hands with the government and work in this direction. Shri Modi suggested that cooperative societies can provide all kinds of services and information to the farmers related to plantation technology and the purchase of equipment.
Referring to the focus on FPOs in the last few years, the Prime Minister informed that work is going on the creation of 10 thousand new FPOs and 5 thousand have already been created. “These FPOs are going to give great power to small farmers. These are means of making small farmers a big force in the market. From seed to market, how the small farmer can make every system stand in his favor, how he can challenge the power of the market, this is a campaign for that, the Prime Minister said. The Government, Shri Modi continued, has decided to create FPOs via PACs too, opening unlimited possibilities in the sector.
The Prime Minister also touched upon the other measures of enhancing farmer’s income such as honey production, organic foods, solar panels, and soil testing and emphasized the need for support from the cooperative sector. The Prime Minister mentioned the recent PM-PRANAM scheme in the context of chemical-free farming which aims to propagate chemical-free farming and promote the use of alternative fertilizers. This too, he stressed, will need the support of cooperatives. He asked the cooperative to adopt 5 villages in every district for ensuring no use of chemicals in agriculture.
The Prime Minister highlighted the Gobardhan Scheme where work is done all across the country to convert ‘waste to wealth’. He informed that the government is preparing a huge network of plants which turn cow dung and waste into electricity and organic fertilizers. The Prime Minister informed that many companies have built more than 50 biogas plants in the country so far and urged the cooperative societies to come forward and support Gobardhan plants. He mentioned that it will not only benefit the cattle herders but also the animals which have been abandoned on the roads.
The Prime Minister called upon the cooperatives to contribute to fulfilling various missions started by the government. He asked them to get involved in the missions of Amrit Sarovars, water conservation, Per Drop More Crop, micro irrigation etc.
The Prime Minister also talked about the topic of storage. He said that the lack of storage facilities has led to a major challenge to food security for a very long time. He said we are able to store less than 50 percent of the grain that we produce. He informed that the central government has come out with the world’s biggest storage scheme and it is planned to create 700 lakh tonne storage capacity in the next five years compared to a total of 1400 lakh tonnes in the last so many decades. He informed that for agriculture infrastructure a fund of one lakh crore rupees has been created and, in the last 3 years, more than 40 thousand crore rupees have been invested in that. A big portion of this investment is from PACs and he said that there is a need for more efforts from the cooperatives in the creation of farmgate infrastructure.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that cooperatives will become a powerful medium of the country\’s economic source in the new India. He also emphasized the need to build villages that will become self-sufficient by following the cooperative model. He also suggested improving cooperation in cooperatives and said that cooperatives should become the carrier of social policy and national policy instead of politics.
Union Minister for Home Affairs and Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah, Union Minister of State for Cooperation, Shri B L Verma, Chairman of International Cooperative Alliance for Asia Pacific, Dr Chandrapal Singh Yadav, and President of National Cooperative Union of India, Shri Dilip Sanghani were present on the occasion among others.