SILCHAR, Dec 27: “The micro – agriculture loan system will be revived in Assam by reorganizing and re-orienting the functioning of gaon panchayats,” said Bharat Chandra Narah, Minister of Cooperation, while talking to The Sentinel here today. During his three-day visit to this valley in connection with the election affairs of the Assam Cricket Association (ACA), he took the opportunity to make appraisal of the functioning of 85 Gaon Panchayat Cooperative Societies (GPCS) spread across the three districts of Cachar Karimganj and Hailakandi, besides seeking relevant information about the non- government cooperative societies.
The minister added to say that GP-level cooperative societies have been facing many problems which need to be properly looked into and redressed in order to reach their benefits to the people of rural areas. The main purpose behind the GPCS was to offer loan to farmers as incentives in order to boost agricultural products and to make arrangement for marketing the products. “This is no longer the primary objective of GPCS for which they have been mainly set up,” pointed out Bharat Narah. The cooperative societies are now functioning to maintain public distribution system for supply of essential foodgrains to BPL families and others through fair price shops.
In fact, cooperative societies, as conceived and planned by the late Chief Minister of Assam, Sarat Chandra Sinha, in 1972 were to provide micro agricultural loan to farmers in order to encourage them for increased production and to make the state self-sufficient in food.
Even before Mohammed Yunus of Bangladesh thought of micro-economy for which he received worldwide acclaim and won the Nobel Prize, Sarat Chandra Sinha had thought of the concept, the minister stated.
It was unfortunate that cooperative societies deviated from their original goal. “It will be the concern of my government to bring back the cooperative system on its declared and chartered course and to work exclusively as agricultural lending society in the larger interests of farmers and rural economy,” the minister pointed out. He cited the instances of Rajasthan and Maharashtra where cooperative societies are meant primarily for agricultural lending purposes.
In order to create the desired impetus to re-orient the cooperative societies, discussions and seminars are being held in different parts of the State and the opinions of experts are taken into account for the revival of micro loan system. Bharat Narah was confident the cooperative movement would get a new dimension and direction for the socio-economic improvement of the problem-ridden farmers. THE SENTINEL