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Sunday, October 07, 2001

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New cooperative policy soon

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, OCT. 6. A new cooperative policy is on the anvil. The Government is in the process of giving final touches to the policy and should come out with it soon.

The new policy, according to the sources in the Agriculture Ministry, will provide a new thrust and pave the way for thorough professionalisation and democratisation of cooperatives to enable them compete with others in an atmosphere of openness, in the wake of globalisation of the economy.

Sources close to the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr. Ajit Singh, who is pushing the formulation of the policy, say that the new policy should facilitate development of the required work culture with emphasis on transparency, accountability, quality services and leadership.

The Minister has been maintaining that the cooperatives should take full advantage of the immense potential of the food processing sector, which adds value to farm produce and generates employment. He has also been emphasising that the food processing industry acquires greater importance in view of the fact that lack of adequate post-harvest infrastructure has been resulting in 25 to 30 per cent spoilage which is a tremendous national wastage.

Dropping hints about the new policy framework in his speech at the meeting of the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), Mr. Singh has said that the corporation has recently approved reduction in the lending rates of interest ranging from 0.75 per cent to 1.5 per cent. This would help States sustain interest in the NCDC programmes, besides giving the corporation an edge over other financial institutions.

The NCDC has, the Minister noted, also approved investment assistance of Rs. 12 crores for a women's sugar cooperative in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra which is the first sugarcane processing cooperative in the country organised entirely by women. It has further decided to fund women's cooperatives at a lower rate of interest.

The Secretary, Department of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Mr. J. N. L. Srivastava, has indicated that the Government was considering amendments to the multi-State Cooperatives Act to provide more autonomy. The amendments would, in all probability, be introduced in the coming session of Parliament.

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