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Climate Change Cooperatives In Indian Agriculture – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Climate Change Cooperatives in Indian Agriculture

Dr Parashram Patil

Greenhouse Gases which contribute to the greenhouse effect and climate change, the
agriculture sector is a major source of producing greenhouse gases. Deforestation, soil erosion, machine intensive farming increased carbon concentrations in the atmosphere. Soil erosion by water, wind and tillage affects both agriculture and the natural environment.

Climate change is a real threat to small and marginal farmers in the rural area. The cooperative climate change societies with their unique presence and work at the farm gate level could provide alternative solutions to mitigate the risk of climate change, especially in the agriculture sector. There is a need to support their role by the government with adequate funding and policy support to specific climate change cooperatives in the agriculture sector.

Why cooperative societies are important: The cooperative movement has contributed significantly to the development of rural areas. The feeling of brotherhood and a tendency to
work together has grown among the members of these societies. Moreover, a sense of real
democracy is communicated among the people. It provides agricultural credits and funds where state and private sectors have not been able to do very much. It provides strategic
inputs for the agricultural sector and they work at farm gate level.

What are the Initiatives taken by the Government to Support Cooperatives in India?

The Ministry of Co-operatives, Govt of India has taken various measures to promote cooperative economic development model for inclusive the development such as follows:

  • Computerization of PACS.
  • Model Bylaws for PACS.
  • PACS as Common Service Centers (CSC).
  • National Cooperative Database.
  • National Cooperative Policy.
  • Amendments to the MSCS Act, 2002.
  • A total financial assistance of Rs. 34,221 crores disbursed in the financial year 2021-22 for the various schemes of NCDC.
  • Member Lending Institutions in Credit Guarantee Fund Trust
  • Co-operative Societies as ‘Buyers’ on GeM Portal
  • Reduction in surcharge on co-operative societies
  • Minimum alternative tax deduction
  • Relief under Section 269ST of the IT Act
  • Reduction of tax rates for new co-operative societies
  • Increase in cash deposits and credit limits through PACS and PCARDBs.
  • Resolution of long pending problems of sugar cooperative factories.
  • New National Multi-State Cooperative Seed Society.
  • New National Multi-State Cooperative Organic Society.
  • New National Multi-State Cooperative Export Society.

Importance in agriculture in India

The agriculture sector in India remains the backbone of its society, employing ~58% of the population. With only 4% of the world’s water resources and 2.4% of the world’s land, India supports 17.8% of the world’s population and 15% of the livestock population.

Climate change and agriculture

This climate change leads to higher temperatures and unanticipated rainfall across the country, resulting in reduced crop yields and overall food production. Due to the rise in temperature and changes in water availability, climate change has affected irrigated agricultural production throughout agro-ecological zones. Since, there is adverse impact of climate change & surge in costs of inputs, Indian agriculture sector needs a re-orientation right from seeds to marketing.

What are the problems faced by Indian agriculture

  • adverse impacts of climate change,
  • fragmented landholdings
  • rising input costs

How are Cooperatives Significant in Mitigating Climate Change in agriculture sector?

  • As the cooperatives work at farm gate level, they can bring collective & innovative solutions deforestation, soil erosion, soil erosion, water management, sustainable agriculture, sustainable fishing, climate smart agriculture, judicious use of fertilizers & pesticides.
  • Climate resilient farm gate infrastructure can be developed to mitigate the impact of climate change in agriculture.
  • Cooperatives contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources in several ways.
  • Cooperatives can promote rain water harvesting, precision farming, crop diversification, irrigation efficiency, climate smart technology etc.
  • Create awareness among farmers members of various things such as sustainable use of energy, water, pesticides, fertilizer etc.
  • Cooperatives can  help in ecological resilience and rural livelihood enhancement among the community at gross route level.

Are there any real-life examples in agricultural climate change?

  • There are a number of successful cooperatives in India like Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd, Krishak Bharti Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd & AMUL have taken various initiatives for and improving Livelihood of  Farmers on Sustainable Basis.
  • IFFDC is contributing in Farm Forestry and Climate Change, activities such as Watershed Management, Climate Proofing, Nutritional and Economic Security, Livelihoods, CSR initiative, Women Empowerment, Community Institution Building including Farmer Producer Organisations, Skill Development & Income Generation, Seed Production and Agri-Input Supply etc.
  • TRIFED in contributing in socio-economic development of tribals of the country by institutionalizing the trade of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) & Surplus Agricultural Produce (SAP) collected/ cultivated by them.
  • NAFED have launched 90 new organic products in the brand Name of “Organic Soul” starting from seeds like flax seeds, chia seeds, tea, flour, pulses and so on. NAFED have also partnered with e-commerce platforms like Grofers and Amazon. Our focus is to popularise these products in the physical markets in the states by making use of the distribution channels. The initiatives of this kind have made cooperatives oriented towards natural and organic farming and are all set to cater to the demand for organic produce.
  • Dhundi village in Kheda district of Gujarat had formed the world’s first solar irrigation cooperative as Dhundi Saur Urja Utpadak Sahakari Mandali (DSUUSM) in 2016. The solar energy provides power to run irrigation pumps, water for farms, cattle, homes, and income by selling the surplus energy to the grids.

What are the Challenges faced by the Cooperatives?

  • The majority of cooperatives are working in farm credit, sugar & milk, they have been enough to promote them in other non-traditional areas.
  • Most members can contribute limited capital. Cooperatives struggle with shortage of funds, especially at the initial stages.
  • the economic viability of the major activities undertaken, the cooperative leadership and management capacity.
  • Many Cooperative Societies have failed to be profitable.

What can be the Way Forward?

  • Primary agricultural cooperative societies (PACAS) need to be strengthened and members need to understand the importance of climate change and its know-how of climate change development.
  • Capacity building regarding awareness about environmental problems, training on adaptation and mitigation, investing in cooperative enterprises and innovations, developing green agenda for a sustainable future. The Capacity Building Commission may play a crucial role in capacity building of the Indian cooperative sector.
  • Since cooperatives are working at farm gate level, they have competitive advantages which they must be utilized for making profits and sustaining a business.
  • Government participation should not take the form of interference or domination. Government should play a key role towards the rapid growth of co-operatives; Government should place adequate funds at the disposal of this sector.

Dr. Parashram Patil is Prime Ministers Museum & Library Fellow (PMML), Agriculture Economist, New Delhi

Disclaimer: All views expressed in the article belong solely to the author and not necessarily to the organization.

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Acknowledgment: This article was posted by  Aasthaba Jadeja, a research intern at IMPRI

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