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Role of Cooperatives and Self Help Groups

The role of cooperatives cannot be ruled out in the growth of rural economy. Cooperative movements like Amul is the one of the biggest examples. In fact, dairy and sugar co-operatives have made India a ‘Major Nation’ in the world with regard to ‘milk’ and ‘sugar’ production. Today, India can claim to have the largest network of co-operatives in the world numbering more than half a million, with a membership of more than 200 million. The cooperative credit facilities and distribution of fertilisers and agrochemicals have been a huge success. The cooperative sugar mills in Western Maharashtra have changed the fortunes of the farmers in that belt. Although cooperatives have failed in many parts of the country due to political interference and corruption, still this movement has changed the entire country’s mind-set towards agricultural growth. Self-help groups have mostly worked for women empowerment. In the stimulus package announced by the union finance minister to fight COVID 19, collateral free loans have doubled for women self-help groups (SHGs) from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh. This will help 63 lakh SHGs covering 7 crore families. There are 44.61 lac women SHGs as of March, 2019. The following news appeared in the Tribune News Service, Chandigarh on March 6. After leaving her government job as a Mathematics teacher in the early 90s, Ludhiana based Gurdev Kaur Deol decided to empower rural women and girls. It started as a small group in the form of a self-help group and today she is transforming the lives of 300 families by marketing their produce through Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs). She is not a lone example. There are many women and NGOs who are engaged in transforming the lives of rural women through self-help groups. The women who were unemployed earlier are now earning anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 20,000 per month. This income is making women more decisive and independent. Self Help Groups are building nation. Rural marketing is the approach to see these opportunities and help people of rural India to realise their dreams and aspirations. There is a huge plethora of areas and geographies where the marketers can start, move and grow with the growing economy of rural India. Rural India is calling, “Come with us let’s grow together.”