Setting up co-operative societies could end farmers’ woes in the country, said Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu at a function here on Thursday. Co-operatives could prove to be a new engine for growth, he said.
“Farmers are not getting as much benefit as they must get. Farmers must get a complete stake in the supply chain and this could happen through co-operatives,” Prabhu said.
Prabhu, speaking at the D R Gadgil memorial lecture organised by the Maharashtra Economic Development Council at Yashwant Chavan Centre, reminded that Gadgil’s contribution in setting up sugar co-operatives in the state had brought a change.
“Today, we are discussing farmers’ problems all over the country. Sugar co-operatives changed the entire landscape of Maharashtra. There are more than one lakh primary agriculture co-operative societies and they can work at grassroots with farmers to bring about a change. Building more co-operatives could help us solve farmers’ problems,” Prabhu said.
Prabhu added that self help groups (SHG) must be involved with co-operatives that could aid in socio-economic change. “There must be a partnership between co-operatives and corporates which could bring about socio-economic change. SHGs can also work with co-operatives which will aid the economy,” he said.
“In the new economic order, farmers must benefit. As farmers constitute more than half the population, they must be our focus group in India. Their income will increase,” Prabhu added.
Speaking on initiatives of the government, he said significant changes happen only after a period of time. “Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be a game changer. Make in India will change the GDP profile of the country. Many other programs like Swachh Bharat and Digital India will also initiate changes in the coming few years,” he said.
The Railway Minister said that a group has been set up to study the impact of GST on railway operations. “Inevitably, all sectors will be affected (with the GST rollout)… We are studying the impact. In any case it is the law of the land so we will adopt it. We have already set up a group to look into the implications of GST on all our operations,” Prabhu said.