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Cooperatives and self-help groups play a crucial role in the growth of the rural economy. A shining example of the power of cooperatives is the Amul movement, which has made India a major player in the global milk and sugar production industry. India boasts the largest network of cooperatives in the world, with over half a million cooperatives and more than 200 million members.

The success of cooperatives can be attributed to their ability to provide vital services such as cooperative credit facilities and the distribution of fertilizers and agrochemicals. One notable achievement is the transformation of farmers' fortunes in Western Maharashtra through cooperative sugar mills. These initiatives have not only improved the lives of farmers but have also changed the mindset of the entire country towards agricultural growth.

Self-help groups, on the other hand, have primarily focused on women empowerment. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has doubled collateral-free loans for women self-help groups (SHGs) from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. This significant financial support will benefit 63 lakh SHGs, covering 7 crore families. As of March 2019, there were 44.61 lakh women SHGs in the country.

Gurdev Kaur Deol, a former Mathematics teacher from Ludhiana, is an inspiring example of the transformative power of self-help groups. She started a small self-help group and now positively impacts the lives of 300 families by marketing their produce through Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs). Many other women and NGOs are actively engaged in similar initiatives, working tirelessly to transform the lives of rural women through self-help groups.

The impact of these efforts is evident as previously unemployed women are now earning monthly incomes ranging from Rs 5,000 to Rs 20,000. This newfound financial independence makes them more decisive and self-reliant, contributing to the building of the nation.

To fully tap into the potential of cooperatives and self-help groups, rural marketing plays a vital role. It is crucial to identify and seize opportunities in rural India, allowing its people to realize their dreams and aspirations. The growing rural economy offers a plethora of areas and geographies for marketers to start, expand, and prosper. Rural India beckons, calling upon us to join hands and grow together towards a brighter future.

Blog taken from Book " Rural Market Unleashed " available on Amazon.in