Role of Cooperatives in Improving Livelihood of Farmers on Sustainable Basis
Cooperatives are present in all the countries and in almost all the sectors, including agriculture, food, finance, health care, marketing, insurance & credit. A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. Agriculture continues to be the engine of economic growth in most developing countries. Strong cooperatives are able to overcome many of the difficulties faced by the farmers; wherein in a country like India 85% are small and marginal farmers. Cooperatives work on the set seven principles, among these principles the seventh principle – Concern for the community derives cooperatives to work for the sustainable development of the community. There are a number of successful cooperatives in India itself like IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd.) and KRIBHCO (Krishak Bharti Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd.) in the fertiliser sector, the Institution like AMUL in Dairy Sector and Self Help Groups (SHGs) formed by various Institutions have immensely benefitted farmer members in increasing crop productivity and overall income by generating support in various programmes related with agriculture. Suitable Farming Systems to generate year round employment and sustainable income through crops, vegetables, fruits and livestock have been achieved by the members of the cooperatives. Initiative has been taken to go in for Agro Forestry combining plantation of fruit trees, fuel trees, and forest trees to improve the overall climate on wastelands by cooperatives like IFFDC (Indian Farm Forestry Development Cooperative Ltd.). This has helped ecological resilience and rural livelihood enhancement among the community. The farmer members have been immensely benefitted in increasing efficiency of various agri inputs and overall crop productivity and finally making better profit through the efforts of cooperatives.