Calling the Primary Agricultural Cooperative Societies (PACS) pillars of the cooperative movement, Union Minister for Cooperation Amit Shah advocated strengthening of the PACS by diversifying them into various other activities.
Addressing a national conference on rural cooperative banks organised by the Ministry of Cooperation and the National Federation of State Cooperative Banks (NAFSCOB) at Vignan Bhavan in New Delhi on Friday, Shah said, “The PACS will not be viable with agriculture lending alone, they should diversify their business.
He informed that the government was bringing model by-laws to govern all the PACS in the country. The sick and defunct PACS should be revived or taken for liquidation.
Amit Shah said, “If the PACS are stronger, all the DCCBs and State Cooperative Banks will automatically flourish. If the PACS do not work properly, the cooperatives will not progress.”
Shah stressed the need to establish more than 2 lakh new PACS across the country to achieve the target of providing agri-finance worth ₹10 lakh crore through cooperatives. There are more than 95,000 PACS currently, of which only about 63,000 PACS are functional.
He noted that PACS are the soul of the agriculture credit system. It is, therefore, necessary to strengthen the existing PACS and also expand them. There are 3 lakh panchayats in India while the number of PACS is only about 95,000.
He asked senior officials of State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) and District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs) to set a five-year goal in this regard.
Shah pointed out that agriculture finance through cooperatives has been declining. The 63,000 functional PACS are doing agriculture finance of Rs 2 lakh crore. If the number of PACs reach 3 lakh, distribution of Rs 10 lakh crore could be possible through cooperatives.
Stressing the need for adopting different strategies to take cooperation to every panchayat of the country, he said a five-year strategy was required for the PACS in each panchayat as two lakh panchayats were yet to have PACS.
The government had taken computerisation of all PACS in the country with an objective of increasing the efficiency and bringing transparency and accountability, he said and added that they were planning to export the organic products produced by the PACS through AMUL.
Shah also said that the rural cooperative banks have played a significant role in connecting rural India with the country’s economy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure is a golden opportunity for the cooperatives in the country with the constitution of a separate Ministry.