Skill Requirements for Sustainable Livelihood in Rural Farm-Based Cooperatives (December)

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Cooperatives are self-supporting community accepted as an essential instrument of social and economic policy. They have advantage in tackling the problems of poverty alleviation, food security and employment generation. They are people-centred rather than capital-centred.

India՚s cooperative movement started during the last quarter of 19th century. The first ever Cooperative Credit Societies Act was passed in 1904. It gave a momentum to cooperative movement. However, the lack of required skill, expert personnel and technology remained a challenge.

Status and Significance of Skilling

Degree of economic growth depends on skill development and capacity improvement of youth.

  • NSS 61st Round results show that very few young people enter the world of work with any kind of formal vocational training. This figure is much higher in industrialized countries.
  • One reason for this is the long duration training courses.
  • The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (2015) aims at skilling people on a large scale with high standards and to promote a culture of innovation-based entrepreneurship in the country.
  • For the development of the rich human resources India need a long-term policy through education, training, skill development and empowerment.

Skill Challenges

  • Policy makers and planners accord low priority to activities of skilling.
  • More than 20 ministries/departments have schemes related to skilling.
  • But there is a problem of optimal implementation because of absence of coordination and monitoring.
  • Challenges hamper the sustainable skilling ecosystem
    • Multiple assessment and skill certification system
    • Paucity of expert trainers. Inability to attract practitioners from the industry.
    • Mismatch between demand and supply
    • Limited mobility between skill and higher education and vocational education.
    • Low coverage of apprenticeship programmes.
    • Narrow and obsolete skill curricula.
    • Declining women labour force participation.
    • Predominant non-farm/unorganised sector employment.
    • Non-inclusion of entrepreneurship in formal education.
    • Lack of mentorship and inadequate access to finance for startups encouraging skilling.
    • Inadequate impetus to innovation driven entrepreneurship.

Skilling Cooperatives for Economic Prosperity

  • Cooperatives can create atmosphere in rural areas to spearhead agriculture and rural development initiatives.
  • They have capability to ensure timely, adequate and doorstep credit support.
  • Businesses are becoming consumer-driven, market-driven and technology-driven. This compels cooperatives to adapt innovative business process.
  • Efforts are to be made by government to train, recapitalize and revive the Indian Cooperative Sector.
  • Cooperation is a state subject.
  • Professionalization and modernisation of cooperatives would facilitate their development and make them self-reliant and economically strong organisations.
  • A separate Ministry named Ministry of Co-operation was created to put interest on revival of the cooperative movement in India. The country has got a direction to work the mission “Sahakar-Se-Samriddhi” .

Skilling Rural Farm Based Cooperatives

  • There are 8.5 lakh cooperatives in India. Among these around 20 % are credit cooperatives and 80 % are non-credit cooperatives.
  • About 290 million farmers are enrolled in cooperatives.
  • Primary Agriculture Credit Society (PACS) is an all-farmer driven cooperative. Its objective is to overcome farmers from the clutches of moneylenders and middlemen.
  • The non-credit cooperatives (Fishery, Livestock, Dairy Processing, Multi-purpose cooperatives) are considered as “rural farm-based cooperatives”
  • As the science progresses the skill and knowledge domains are also getting wider. The need of the hour is to find out skill gap and roll out effective and time-tested mechanisms for skilling.

Sustainable Livelihood and Skill-Sets

  • Promoting sustainable livelihood opportunities is a complex task.
  • It is important to understand the local people՚s needs and problems, perception, interests, practices, local institutional mechanisms. This would help in adopting a holistic perspective for promoting livelihood development.
  • Farm-based cooperatives should construct a diverse portfolio to improve their member′ income and standard of living.
  • Community owned and farmer member driven cooperatives need to practice market-oriented farming.
  • Cooperatives have to integrate six capitals for their business growth.
    • Human capital
    • Social capital
    • Physical capital
    • Natural capital
    • inancial capital
    • Information capital
  • There is a requirement for improvement in hard and soft skills.
  • Hard skills include identification business capital, management capabilities, market dynamics, business planning, traceability etc.
  • Soft skills include negotiation, persuasion, monitoring and evaluation, creativity etc.

Way Forward

  • Need to evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities
  • Need to design a strategic roadmap for cooperative movement.
  • Need for collaboration and convergence.

As the cooperatives act as a financial institution for rural population, cooperatives should design new perspectives for sustainable growth. In the current market driven and technology-driven commercial market cooperatives need entrepreneurial orientation and skill sets to make themselves smart, competitive and sustainable.

Examrace Team at