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Prime Minister Narendra Modi Unveils Transformative Initiatives for the Cooperative Sector

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked a significant milestone in India’s cooperative sector by inaugurating and laying the foundation stone for key initiatives at Bharat Mandapam, New Delhi. The groundbreaking projects were unveiled to fortify the cooperative sector’s role in agriculture, economic development, and overall societal prosperity.

The Prime Minister inaugurated the pilot project of the ‘World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector,’ a monumental endeavor spanning 11 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) in 11 states. This ambitious initiative, supported by NABARD and spearheaded by the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), aims to integrate PACS godowns seamlessly into the food grain supply chain, enhancing food security across the nation. In conjunction with this, the foundation stone was laid for an additional 500 PACS to construct godowns and other agricultural infrastructure, further strengthening this collaborative effort.

This initiative is a convergence of various existing schemes such as the Agriculture Infrastructure Fund (AIF) and Agriculture Marketing Infrastructure (AMI). By enabling PACS to avail subsidies and interest subvention benefits, the project seeks to foster infrastructure development and empower farmers.

Additionally, the Prime Minister inaugurated a project for the computerization of 18,000 PACS across the country. This initiative aligns with the government’s vision of “Sahakar se Samridhi,” aimed at rejuvenating the cooperative sector and empowering small and marginal farmers.

Addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister emphasized that Bharat Mandapam has become a witness to a significant stride in the journey of Viksit Bharat, a step forward in the direction of ‘Sahkaar se Samriddhi.’ Acknowledging the historical significance of cooperatives in India, he underscored their role in strengthening the foundation of agriculture and farming.

The ‘World’s Largest Grain Storage Plan in Cooperative Sector’ is anticipated to result in the establishment of thousands of warehouses and godowns across the nation. The computerization of PACS is expected to bring new dimensions to agriculture and modernize farming practices.

Reflecting on the ancient concept of cooperatives in India, the Prime Minister highlighted their foundational role in building an atmanirbhar (self-reliant) society. He commended the spirit of cooperatives, emphasizing that it goes beyond systems and resources, producing exceptional results. Drawing inspiration from scriptures, he emphasized the collective strength that smaller resources can harness.

The Prime Minister noted that the power of cooperation can transform ordinary systems related to daily life into industrious systems, leading to a proven transformation in the rural and agricultural economy. He highlighted the government’s commitment to bringing together the fragmented powers of the agricultural sector through the newly established Ministry of Cooperation.

Speaking about the success stories of Amul and Lijjat Papad, the Prime Minister emphasized the central role of women in these cooperative enterprises. He mentioned the government’s prioritization of women in cooperative sector policies, ensuring board representation by amending the Multi-state Cooperative Societies Act.

The Prime Minister pointed out the potential of cooperatives in tackling personal issues faced by farmers collectively, using storage as an example. He drew attention to the world’s largest storage plan of 700 lakh metric tons, initiated by the government, to be completed in the next five years at a cost of Rs 1.25 lakh crores. This initiative aims to enable farmers to store and sell their produce at the right time according to their needs, while also facilitating loans from banks.

Highlighting the importance of cooperative institutions in the journey of Viksit Bharat, the Prime Minister urged them to contribute towards the goals of Aatmnirbhar Bharat. He suggested identifying items for which India is dependent on imports and exploring how the cooperative sector can help produce them locally. Examples such as edible oil and ethanol were mentioned to reduce dependence on imports.

The Prime Minister underscored the role of cooperatives in natural farming, turning farmers into providers of energy and fertilizer. He suggested that rooftop solar and solar panels on farm borders could be areas for cooperative initiatives. Cooperative interventions in Gobardhan, bio CNG production, and waste-to-wealth initiatives were also emphasized.

Focusing on increasing rural income, the Prime Minister noted the impact of dairy cooperatives in his constituency Kashi. He highlighted the strides made by cooperatives in the honey sector, acknowledging the role of NAFED, TRIFED, and state cooperatives. Emphasizing the benefits of digital payments and Direct Benefit Transfer, the Prime Minister stressed the need for direct and digital payments by PACS.

The Prime Minister urged cooperatives to play a role in global branding of the efforts of small farmers, making products like Shri Anna-Millets available on dining tables globally. He underscored the importance of bringing transparency to cooperative organization elections.

The government’s efforts to reduce cess on cooperative societies, thereby increasing capital, and creating equality between cooperative societies and companies by reducing minimum alternate tax were highlighted. The Prime Minister also mentioned increasing the withdrawal limit and reducing the TDS on withdrawals to tackle the issue of TDS.

Concluding the address, the Prime Minister expressed confidence that collective efforts in the direction of cooperation would unlock all possibilities of development with the collective strength of the country. Union Minister for Home Affairs and Cooperation, Shri Amit Shah, Union Minister for Agriculture, Shri Arjun Munda, and Union Minister for Commerce, Shri Piyush Goyal were present on the occasion, among others.

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