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वैज्ञानिक नाम ओरिजा सेटिभा एल. स्थानीय नाम धान, चामल
वैदिक साहित्य एवं पुरातात्विक उत्खननमा धान सबैभन्दा पुरानो उत्पादित बालीमध्ये एक भएको प्रमाण पाइएको छ। हजारौं वर्ष अघिदेखि नै भारत र चीनमा यसको खेती गरिन्थ्यो। धानअन्तर्गत विश्वको करिब ९० प्रतिशत क्षेत्र एसियामा पर्दछ अनि विश्वको लगभग ९० प्रतिशत धान एसियामै उत्पादन र खपत गरिन्छ। संसारभरि १५० मिलियनभन्दा धेरै इलाकामा धानको उब्जाउ गरिन्छ। भारत र चीन दुवैले एकसाथ विश्वको लगभग आधा धान इलाका ओगटेका छन् अनि ६० प्रतिशतभन्दा धेरै मानिसहरू चामल खान्छन्। चामल एसियाको एक प्रमुख खाद्य हो अनि युगौं पहिला एसियामा धानको खेती गरिएको हामीसँग ऐतिहासिक प्रमाणहरू छन् (पार्थसारथी, १९६० र घोष र अन्य, १९६०)। धानको पहिलो बीज कहाँ उत्पत्ति भयो भन्ने विषयमा कसैले पनि ठ्याक्कै भन्न सकेका छैनन्।
सम्भवत: १०,००० वर्षअघि एसियाको गर्मी क्षेत्रमा धानको खेतीको शुरुआत भयो (दे दत्त, १९८१)। भारतमा हस्थीनापुर (उत्तर प्रदेश)-मा उत्खनन (१०००-७५० ख्रीष्टपूर्व)-को समयमा धानको सबैभन्दा पुरानो नमूना डढेको अवस्था वा अंगारको स्वरूपमा पाइएको थियो। जंगली धान प्रचुरमात्रामा पाइएकोले भारतमा धेरै अघि नै यसको उत्पादन भएको हुनसक्छ। यसलाई घरेलुकरण गर्ने प्रक्रिया पहिला चीनमा भयो र त्यसपछि यो दक्षिण-पूर्वी एसियामा सऱ्यो। जंगली धान पहिला बंगलादेश, आसाम, उडिस्सा र यसका छेउछाउका इलाकामा उब्जाउ गरिएको विश्वास छ। पश्चिम र उत्तर अफ्रिका (इजिप्ट), पूर्व र मध्य अफ्रिकाका अधिकांश देशहरूमा पनि धान उब्जनी गरिन्थ्यो। त्यसपछि धानको खेती दक्षिण र मध्य अमेरिकी मुलुकहरू (ल्याटिन अमेरिका), अष्ट्रेलिया, युएसए अनि स्पेन, इटाली र फ्रान्सजस्ता दक्षिणी युरोपीय मुलुकहरूमा विस्तार भयो।
सिक्किमका प्रमुख खाद्यान्न बालीहरूमध्ये धान एक हो। सिक्किमलाई ‘डेनजोङ’ –को संज्ञा दिइएको छ, जसको अर्थ ‘धानको उपत्यका’ हो। सिक्किममा धानको प्राचीन पदचिन्ह खुट्याउन गाह्रो छ, तर केही विशेषज्ञहरू सिक्किमसहित सम्पूर्ण पूर्वोत्तर क्षेत्र र चीन धानको देश हुनसक्ने ठान्छन्। सिक्किममा यसलाई थप परिचित गराएपछि १९७० देखि यता व्यापकमात्रामा धानको खेती गरिँदै आएको छ।
प्रयोग तथा महत्त्व
चामल विश्वका जनसंख्याको ६५ प्रतिशतभन्दा अधिक मानिसहरूको मुख्य खाद्य हो। भारतीय संस्कृतिमा यसको ठूलो महत्त्व छ अनि जन्मदेखि मृत्युसम्म यसको अस्तित्व सधैं रहेकै हुन्छ। चामल पकाएपछि भात, पलाउ, ब्रियानी र अन्य धेरै भोजनको रूपमा खाइन्छ। यसले प्रमुख खाद्यान्न मात्र प्रदान गर्दैन, तर विश्वभरि अतिरिक्त रोजगार पनि सिर्जना गरेको छ। यसका उपोत्पादन (बाइ-प्रोडक्ट) विभिन्न औद्योगिक उत्पादनहरू बनाउन प्रयोग गरिन्छ। खासगरी यसमा च्यापच्यापे तरल पदार्थ (स्राव) –को राम्रो मात्रा हुने हुनाले वस्त्र उद्योगमा यसको प्रयोग गरिन्छ। धानको पराल प्याकिङ गर्न प्रयोग हुन्छ। यो पशुआहारको उत्तम स्रोत हो अनि सोतरको रूपमा पनि उपयोग गर्न सकिन्छ। धानको कनिका भोज्य तेलको एउटा स्रोत हो। यसको भुस कार्डबोर्ड बनाउन पनि प्रयोग गरिन्छ।
चामलको दानामा स्राव (सेतो च्यापच्यापे तरल पदार्थ) ७५-८० प्रतिशत हुन्छ। गहुँमा भन्दा धानमा प्रोटिनको मात्रा कम हुन्छ, तर यो उत्तम गुणको हुन्छ अनि गहुँको प्रोटिनभन्दा यसलाई शरीरले राम्रोसँग प्रयोग गर्छ। चामलको दाना निम्नलिखित चीजले बनेको हुन्छ:
मिलमा धान कुट्ने
मिलमा धान कुट्दा त्यसबाट भुस र अन्नको कोसा छुट्टिन्छ। मिलमा कुट्ने प्रक्रियामा कनिकाको सतह र अविकसित धानको बियाँ पनि निकालिन्छ। पौष्टिकताको क्षति सौझै घर्षणबाट हुने परिष्कृत वा चमकको अनुपातमा हुन्छ। हातले वा ढिकीमा कुट्दा भिटामिन बी१ –को कम मात्रामा क्षति हुन्छ भने चामलको मोठ भिटामिन बी१ मध्ये मेसिनमा कुट्दा दुई-तिहाई र उसिन्दा एक-तिहाइ भिटामिनको क्षति हुन्छ। पूर्ण रूपमा परिष्कृत गरिएको वा पोलिस हटाएको चामल नियमित रूपमा खानाले थायमिनको कमी हुन्छ अनि बेरीबेरी नामक रोग लाग्छ। मिलमा कुटेको चामलभन्दा उसिनेको चामल धेरै पौष्टिक हुन्छ, किनभने उसिनेको चामललाई धुँदा त्यसबाट पौष्टिक तत्त्वको क्षति कम हुन्छ। पकाएको भात धेरै फुलिन्छ अनि फुर्र हुन्छ तर टाँसिने हुँदैन। भातको यो गुणस्तर चामल कति पुरानो हो भन्ने, उसिनेको चामल, पकाउँदा पानी कति हालिन्छ, पकाउने विधि अर्थात् पानीमा वा भर्साएर पकाउने आदिमाथि भर पर्दछ।
गर्मी, ओस, कीट र काई वा ढुसीले चर्बीको पानी र हावा घटाउँछ अनि थायमिनको मात्रामा कमी ल्याउँछ। अन्नमा ९ प्रतिशत वा त्यसभन्दा कम ओस भयो भने चर्बीको गन्ध आउँदैन। तर १५ प्रतिशतभन्दा माथि ओस भयो भने अन्नमा किरा र ढुसी लाग्नसक्छ, जसले यसको गुणस्तरलाई असर गर्छ। यद्यपि, ९ प्रतिशत वा त्यसभन्दा कममा धान भण्डारन गरिन्छ भने वायुमण्डलीय चिसोपनको कारणले गर्दा ओसरोधी कन्टेनर र भण्डारनको आवश्यकता पर्दछ। यसले भण्डारन मूल्य बढाउँछ र यो व्यावहारिक रूपमै असम्भव हुन्छ। यसैले, धानको उचित भण्डारन गर्नु छ भने त्यसमा ओसको मात्रा १२ प्रतिशत वा त्यसभन्दा कम हुनुपर्छ।
प्रशोधन तथा भुस निकाल्ने
गाउँमा अझै पनि हातले ढिकीमा कुट्ने प्रचलन आम छ। मिलमा कुटेको धानको तुलनामा ढिकीमा कुटेको चामलमा धेरै पौष्टिक तत्त्व रहन्छ। दुई प्रकारको स्वचालित मेसिनमा धान कुटिन्छ- एउटा हुलर टाइप (भुस निकाल्ने) र सेलर कम पोलिसर टाइप ( भुस निकाल्ने तथा परिष्कृत गर्ने)। पौष्टिक तत्त्वको दृष्टिले पछिल्लो विधि निकै हानिकारक छ किनभने यसप्रकारको मेसिनबाट धान कुट्दा त्यसमा पौष्टिक तत्त्वको ठूलो मात्रामा क्षति हुन्छ।
धानको प्रजाति-प्रजातिअनुसार पोषणको स्थितिमा धेरै फरक पर्दैन, तर विभिन्न नश्ल र सन्तानका धानको जातअनुसार त्यसको पोषण अवस्थामा फरक पर्दछ।
गोडमेलको कारण, खासगरी मल र पानीको व्यवस्था ठिकसँग भएन भने कोसा लाग्ने वा दूध पस्ने र त्यसको स्तर छुट्याउने प्रक्रियामा असर पर्छ।
वृद्धि तथा विकास अवस्था
शारीरिक रूपमै धानको जीवन-चक्रलाई तीन खण्डमा विभाजित गरिएको छ, जसबारे निम्नअनुसार चर्चा गरिन्छ: उद्भिद अवस्था: यसका चार अवस्था हुन्छन्, ती हुन्-
बीज टुसाको रूपमा कलिलो बिरुवामा फेरिन्छ, जसमा बीज जरा र स्थायी जरा अनि हरिया पातहरू हुन्छन्। यो बिरुवा १५ दिनसम्म अथवा पहिलो दुई पात नआउञ्जेलसम्म बीजकोषमा संचित रहेको कार्बोहाइड्रेट्समाथि निर्भर रहन्छ। पाँचपात विकसित भएपछि यो चरण सकिन्छ। यस अवधिमा बिरुवाले प्राय: सबै बीजकोषलाई समाप्त गरेर नयाँ बिरुवा निकाल्छ।
बीजारोपण अर्थात् बिरुवा रोपनको अवस्था
यो अवधिले बिरुवा उखेलेर सबै बिरुवालाई फेरि रोपाइँ गर्नेसम्मको पुन: प्राप्तिको अवस्थालाई समेट्दछ। बिरुवा रोपाइँ गरेको चारदेखि दश दिनभित्रमा दोस्रो स्थायी जरा आउँछ अनि यसले माटोबाट पोषकतत्त्वहरू चुस्न थाल्छ र बोटको वृद्धिलाई अघि बढाउँछ। यदि पानीको दह राखेर बिरुवाहरू सावधानीपूर्वक उखेलियो भने बिरुवा उखेल्दा जरामा लाग्ने चोटपटक घटाउन सकिन्छ। यदि धानको बीजलाई सोझै छरियो भने पुन:प्राप्तिको अवस्था आउँदैन अनि उद्भिद विकासको चरण तदनुसार चारदेखि दश दिन घट्छ।
भुइँडाँठ आउने अवस्था
बिरुवा रोपेपछिको दश दिनपछि अत्यधिक भुइँडाँठ पलाउने अवस्था हुन्छ, जो बिरुवा उखेलेर फेरि बीजारोपन गरेको ३५ देखि ४२ दिनभित्रमा आउँछ। साधारणत: तेस्रो वा तृतीयक डाँठ आएपछि बोटले डाँठ निकाल्न बन्द गर्छ। अत्यधिक आँख्ला पलाउने अवस्थामा पुगेपछि बोटमा डाँठको संख्या घट्दै जान्छ।
उद्भिदको मन्द अवस्था
यो अवधि अत्यधिक डाँठ पलाउने र फूलडाँठ शुरु हुने बीचको अवस्था हो, जसमा केही डाँठहरू समय पुगेर मर्छन्। चाँडो पाक्ने धानका प्रजातिहरूमा यो चरण हुँदैन, तर यो लामो समयमा पाक्ने धानमा भने हुन्छ। यो मन्द अवधि अन्य अवधिभन्दा कम हुन्छ। यो उद्भिदको मन्द अवस्थालाई प्रकाशसंश्लेषणप्रतिको संवेदनशील अवस्था पनि भनिन्छ। विशेष प्रकारको प्रकाशसंवेदी प्रजातिहरूमा यो अवधि एक वा दुई महिनासम्म पनि रहन सक्छ। यो मूल उद्भिद अवस्थाको अन्तिम अवधि हो।
फूलडाँठ शुरु हुने अवस्था
यो प्रजनन अवस्थाको शुरुआत हो, जसमा दीर्घम्यादीको प्रजातिहरूमा अत्यधिक डाँठ अवस्था सम्पन्न हुन्छ। यसले अत्यधिक डाँठ पलाउने अवस्थालाई अघि बढाउन वा छोप्न पनि सक्छ। गुबो पसाउने अवस्था अघि लगभग २१ देखि २५ दिनमा यो अवस्था आउँछ तर फूलडाँठको शुरुआती चरण सकिएको एक हप्तापछि मात्र फूल फुलेको थाहा पाउन सकिन्छ।
अन्तरडाँठ बढ्ने अवस्था
फूलडाँठ शुरु हुने अवस्थापछि बोटको मध्यमा रहेको भित्री कोखले अन्तरडाँठ लम्बिने क्रमलाई तीव्रताका साथ बढाउँछ। भुइँडाँठ शुरुआती अवस्थाको लगत्तैपछि बोट लम्बिनु थाल्छ। छिट्टै पाक्ने प्रजातिहरूमा माथिल्लो अन्तरडाँठ लम्बिने क्रम भुइँडाँठ शुरु हुने अवस्थाभन्दा धेरै अघि नै हुनसक्छ। पातको दापभित्र फूलडाँठको विकास शुरु हुँदा यसले वृद्धि अवस्था देखाउँछ।
बढ्ने अवस्था सकिएपछि फूलडाँठ वा टुप्पो पसाउन थाल्छ। सबै धानका प्रजातिहरूमा वृद्धिको १५ दिनपछि यो अवस्था आउँछ।
फूल फुल्ने अवस्था
वृद्धि अवस्थाको २०-२५ दिनपछि फूल फुल्न थाल्छ। फूलडाँठमा भएको सबै फूलगुच्छ नफुलेसम्म यो क्रम सफलतापूर्वक जारी रहन्छ। यसपछि पराग हाल्ने र षेचन गर्ने क्रम चल्छ।
बालीले निम्नलिखित चरणहरू पार गरेपछि २५ देखि ३५ दिनको बीचमा धान पाक्ने क्रिया पूरा हुन्छ।
Economic implication of Co-operative movement with reference to agriculture of Nepal:
The co-operative concept in the form of Guthi, Parma, Dhikuri, Dharmabhakari etc has been used from a very beginning in Nepalese societies. Characteristics of these historical social institutions are almost resembled with primary form of co-operatives. For the institutional development of such societies, the then government aimed to adopt co-operative system as a means for economic social and cultural development of the people as well as an appropriate and effective tool for rural development. The then government established the Department of Co-operative under the Ministry of Planning, Development and Agriculture in 1953 A.D (2010 B.C). The modern cooperative movement initiated from Rapti Valley (Chitwan District) as a part of flood relief and resettlement program. At the first time 13 credit cooperative societies established in 2013B.S. were provisionally registered under the executive order of the then government which got legal recognition after the enactment of Cooperative Societies Act 2016B.S.(1959A.D.). The first Co-operative Societies Act was revised several times and it was replaced by the Sajha Societies Act in 2041B.S.(1984A.D.). After the restoration of multiparty democracy the Sajha Societies Act was replaced again by the Co-operative Act 1992. The Department of Co-operative has provided the authority for registration and regulations of co-operative societies/unions/federations under the Acts.
The interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 has considered Cooperative sector as one of the three pillars for national development. Several types of cooperatives societies operated in the country are Saving and Credit, Multipurpose, Dairy, Agriculture, Fruits and Vegetables, Bee Keeping, Tea, Coffee, Consumers, Energy, Communication etc. including production, financial and service. Nepal has initiated its cooperative movement after 1950 AD. Policy and programs launched by the government have emphasized the importance of Cooperative modality to maintain peace in the society by means of self employment and to expedite the development works. It is believed that some 3 million people are already affiliated so far in more than 20000 cooperatives and more than 50000 people are employed directly in Cooperative business.
2. Status of Cooperatives in Nepal
With the restoration of democracy in 1990 and promulgation of a new Cooperative Act in 1992, there has been resurgence in the cooperative movement in Nepal. This is evidenced by the fact that the number of registered cooperatives has grown to 9362 ( Statistics on Nepalese Cooperative Societies & Unions, Government of Nepal, Ministry of Agriculture & Cooperatives, Department of Cooperatives, 2007, July 9) as of the record up to April 13, 2007, compared to 830 in 1990. With the increase in number, cooperatives have diversified their involvement in micro & medium level enterprises. Indeed cooperative sector is flourishing one of the largest private sector business enterprises in Nepal. One of the factors that have contributed to the rapid expansion in both the number and the enterprise coverage of cooperatives is the new policy and legal regime allowing grassroots based spontaneous initiatives of communities to organize themselves into cooperatives for doing business and serving the communities. This is in contrast to the government led and government directed cooperatives prior to 1990.
There are presently nearly 9,362 primary cooperatives and these are federated into a number of subject-specific cooperative unions at the district level (72), district cooperative unions (49), central cooperative union (5), and 1 national cooperative bank. The National Cooperative Federation is the apex level representative body of all the cooperatives at the national level. Among the five central level cooperative
unions, there is one each for dairy, coffee, fruits and vegetables, consumers, and savings and credit.
Department of Co-operative have the following vision, mission, goals and objectives:
The long term vision is to develop cooperatives as one of the lead sector for economic development of the country.
The mission of the Cooperatives Department is to develop the values and principles based cooperatives in the country and the plan would be delineated for the fulfillment of long term vision.
- Cooperatives will be developed as the foundation pillar of the economy for the economic growth, member saving deposits mobilization, operation of agriculture and micro-enterprises, and creating awareness of the people on Cooperative concepts.
- Cooperatives will be developed as the medium to address the economic, social and cultural needs of people as a mechanism to contribute in community development and service delivery.
- To create conducive environment for the establishment of member base cooperative societies based on membership following cooperative principles and values to fulfill the needs of their members.
- To collect small and scattered amounts of resources from the member at local level to create an economic force and to invest those resources for their own economic, social and cultural development.
- To promote Co-operative system as a means of economic, social and cultural development of the marginalized people living in the country.
- A Co-operative system will be developed as a means of transforming the traditional mode of agricultural and non-agricultural production into commercial production in rural level.
- To motivate stakeholders to operate co-operative movement based on the cooperative rules, regulations and principles.
- Co-operative societies unions federations are used as the effective local institutional mechanism to achieve the national goal of “poverty alleviation.”
Cooperative Act, 1992
The preamble of the Cooperative Act, 1992 has quoted as “Whereas it is expedient to provide for the formation and operation of various type of cooperative societies and unions for the social and economic development of the country’s farmers, workers, artisans, people possessing inadequate capital and low income groups, landless and unemployed people or social workers for the benefit of general consumers on the basis of mutual cooperation and cooperative principles.” The important provisions of the Cooperative Act, 1992 includes registration of cooperative societies/unions, distribution of membership, operational procedures, appointment of registrar, authority of registrar, delegation of authority, mobilization of resources, integration and disintegration of cooperatives, system of information recording and auditing of accounts, rebates and incentives to cooperatives, dissolution and liquidation of cooperatives, regulations and penalties to defaulters etc. Some special features of the Act are simple registration procedures, legal and corporate personality, equality, elected board of directors, voluntary membership, autonomy, self regulatory mechanism, federal structure of cooperative movement, limited liability of members, wide scope of cooperative business etc.
At the beginning the then government emphasized on the concept of self-help in order to accelerate the development process at local level aimed to mobilize resources for socio–economic development of people through co-operative movement. Co-operative Department had provided authority and made directly involved in establishing, operation and regulating co-operative societies and unions. After the restoration of democracy in 1990 A.D (2046 B.S.), the democratic government enacted the Co-operative Act 1992 A.D (2048 B.S) and the Co-operative Regulations 1993 A.D (2049 B.S.) The new Cooperative Act has provided an opportunity to the Nepalese people to establish independent and autonomous co-operative societies by themselves, according to their capacity to fulfill their own needs. The Co-operative Act 1992 A.D (2048 B.S) has firmly accepted the cooperative principles and provided a legal base both for the establishment of co-operative societies/unions/federations and application of co-operative values, norms and principles into practice. At present, the Department of Co-operatives is working under the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives to enhance the local entrepreneurship as well as to develop local leadership through the promotion, regulation and development of Co-operatives for economic, social and cultural development of their members.
Types of Cooperatives:
- Agricultural Cooperatives
- Dairy Cooperatives
- Small Farmer Cooperative (SFCL)
- Coffee Cooperatives
- Multipurpose Cooperatives
- Herbal Cooperatives
- Tea Cooperatives
- Savings and Credit Cooperatives
- Health Cooperatives
- Science and Technology Cooperatives
- Consumer Cooperatives
- Other Cooperatives
The Cooperative Act 1992 has firmly accepted the cooperative principles and provided a legal base both for the establishment of cooperative societies/unions/federations and application of cooperative values, norms and principles into practice. At present, the Department of Cooperatives is working under the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives to enhance the local entrepreneurship as well as to develop local leadership through the promotion, regulation and development of cooperatives for economic, social and cultural development of their members.
Introduction of National Cooperative Federation of Nepal
Introduced Cooperative Movement in 1956 with the objective of rehabilitating the flood-stricken people and raising living standard of people. Established the National Cooperative Federation of Nepal (NCF/N) for leading the cooperative movement on June 20, 1993. The vision of national cooperative federation is to promote and establish such Nepalese civil society where the Democracy, Equality, Solidarity, Social justice, Caring for other and Gender-Balanced sustainable development through cooperation will be prevalent. It has the mission to unite, lead, represent and serve members through their cooperatives at all level for their economic, social & cultural development.
The objective of the National Cooperative Federation of Nepal is
- To promote and develop the cooperative movement in Nepal on the basis of the cooperative principles and the people’s needs with their own initiative and participation.
- To promote, strengthen and develop the cooperatives through cooperative trainings, education & specific projects in order to make efficient & viable cooperatives.
- To organize seminars, workshops, awareness creating programs on the emerging issues & lead the movement for safeguarding & practicing the cooperative norms, values & principles.
- To promote the business for the economic benefits of the members by way of developing marketing networks for products.
- To provide leadership to the cooperative movement and to represent on behalf of cooperatives in the Government & other national and international forums.
- 3. Impacts of Cooperatives at agriculture sector in Nepal:
Co- operatives have direct and indirect impacts on socio-economic development by promoting and supporting entrepreneurial development, creating productive employment, raising incomes and helping to reduce poverty while enhancing social inclusion, social protection and community-building. Whilst cooperatives directly benefit their members, they also offer positive externalities for the rest of society, and have a transformational impact on the economy. Some of the specific ways cooperatives contribute to development goals include:
Agricultural cooperatives play an important role in food production and distribution, and in supporting long-term food security.
Agricultural cooperatives also promote the participation of women in economic production, which, in turn helps in food production and rural development: through cooperatives, women are able to unite in solidarity and provide a network of mutual support to overcome cultural restrictions to pursuing commercial or economic activities. For example, women-only cooperatives in South Asia facilitate economic independence and improve the social standing of women through their active participation in businesses and management. A survey in Nigeria indicated that compared to non-cooperative members, women engaged in cooperative activities were better off, both in terms of productivity and economic well-being.
Financial cooperatives (credit unions, savings and credit cooperatives or cooperative banks) enable easy access to savings and credit at low-cost. They work by pooling limited capital: members‘ mandatory purchase of ownership shares in the cooperative and their deposit/savings accounts serve as the funding base to enable the cooperative to extend credit to members. Financial cooperatives are the largest providers of microfinance services to the poor. It is estimated that globally, financial cooperatives reach 78 million clients living below a poverty line of $2 per day. In South Asia, for example, 54.5 per cent of borrowers living below $2 per day were served by cooperatives, compared to 19 per cent served by other microfinance providers. Financial cooperatives thus play a central role in the achievement of an inclusive financial sector that encompasses the poor.
Financial cooperatives contribute to poverty reduction in various ways. Access to credit to finance micro, small and medium enterprise generates employment and incomes. Low-cost savings facilities for the poor and small depositors help to reduce members‘ vulnerabilities to shocks such as medical emergencies, and encourage future investments, including education and small business enterprises. Empirical research of the last decade has demonstrated that demand for savings services exists, even among the poorest. If formal means of savings are unavailable, poor people tend to use livestock, jewellery or other informal arrangements that typically have a low or negative interest rate. For people living in poverty, savings is critical to counterbalance the cyclicality of income.
In Nepal, cooperatives are substantial providers of social and economic protection, especially health coverage and loan. In some countries, they participate in the management of compulsory health insurance or provide services through their networks of health and social facilities. Governments have partnered with cooperatives to extend social protection. For example, the Yeshasvini Cooperative Farmers Health Scheme (Karnataka, India), which serves 2 million people, is financed by members, annual premium contributions and government subsidy.
Cooperatives have been instrumental in peace building. In Sri Lanka and Nepal, cooperatives have been the only independent organizations allowed by all parties to operate in conflict zones.
The report points out that like other business enterprises, cooperatives have limitations, and will thrive in supportive environments and struggle in others. The success of cooperatives is a function of capable management and governance and the ability to adapt to prevailing business conditions. The primary means therefore of leveraging cooperatives for socio-economic development is to promote their formation and growth in a sustainable manner, consistent with cooperative values and principles and respectful of their autonomy. This requires a sound policy and legislative framework and a level playing field vis-à-vis other enterprises’.
The programme-promoted by the cooperative had wider reach compared to the self-promoted ones as they had poverty alleviation as their objective.
Loans were mostly taken for productive purposes, social activities, purchasing and repairing assets, and for repaying previous loans. In particular, women borrowers mostly took loans for social activities and for repaying previous loans. In most cases, loans were used for the stated purpose; in some cases, however, loans taken for one purpose were diverted to other purposes. Women members often did this to spend money on the most needy aspects of the household.
Sources of Loan
Members approached other financial service providers if the loan products offered by their co-operatives did not meet their financial needs. Such financial service providers included banks, other cooperatives, savings groups, moneylenders, friends, neighbours and relatives. Non-member households were more dependent on moneylenders than member households were. Due to the loan services provided by the cooperatives, member households were less likely to approach other sources of loan than non-member
There were a few repayment problems. Most of the borrowers who had problem in repaying their last loans had invested them in non-profitable activities. Those members who had repayment problem had taken loans from other financial sources. This suggests that, in such cases, they had used the loans to repay the loans taken from their cooperatives or had used the loans taken from their co-operatives to pay the loans taken from other sources.
Diversification, Profitability and Profit Use
Those members that had taken their last loans for a number of different purposes usually had made profit out of them. Higher profit was generated when members used higher amount of last loan in diversified income-generating activities. In addition, the larger the size of the last loan taken and the number of skill development training inputs received, the higher was the profit.
The most important use of profit was seen as ploughing it back into the enterprise. Other uses included purchasing food and other household stuffs, which was the best thing they could do with their profits.
Increase in Income
The incomes of cooperative members noted higher increases since they joined the cooperatives as compared to non-member households. This fact was supported by evidences of higher increases in the assets of member households compared to nonmember households.
The per capita expenditure on food consumption of member households was higher than that of non-member households. This suggests higher income of member households compared to non-member households.
Health expenditures of member households were lower than those of non-member households. One possible reason for this is that the member households were more aware of preventive health than non-members were due to the intervention by co-operatives.
This indicates that the cooperatives have contributed substantially to making their members more aware of their own as well as their family members’ health. Expenditures of member households on purchasing of assets such as land, gold jewellery, house, vehicles, etc were higher than those of non-member households. This indicates greater increase in the incomes of member households than those of non-member households.
Similarly, expenditure of member households on their children’s education was more than that of non-member households. This shows that members gave more priority to their children’s education than non-member households did. This may be mainly because of two reasons: first, now they had the money to do so, and, second, the attitude of member households towards the schooling of their children had seen a positive change compared to non-member households.
Member households consumed nutrient food items such as meat, milk, egg, fruits, etc more frequently than non-member households did. Similarly, the diet of most of the member households had improved.
It is assumed that children are not sent to school because of poverty, lack of awareness of importance of education and engagement of children in household chores. The proportion of teenage children attending school was higher for member households as compared to non-member households. Interestingly, however, among non-member households, more female than male children were sent to school, whereas the reverse was the situation in the case of member households. Member households were more likely to have pukka (cemented with tin roof) latrines than non-member households.
Women’s involvement in decision-making in different matters, including household decisions, was taken as a proxy indicator of their empowerment. Involvement of women members in decision-making in various matters, such as opting for family planning, buying and selling assets, participating in community development, participating in community meetings, voting, taking loans, using loans and profits, was higher than that of non-member women. In addition, women members were more informed about human
rights and women’s rights than non-members were. Their involvement in various exposure programmes and community development activities of cooperatives had made their mobility much higher than that of non-members. This had helped women members to increase their knowledge of different issues, which, in turn, had contributed to their empowerment.
The micro-finance and other services provided by the co-operatives had generated impact not only on the livelihood of members at individual and household levels, but also on the community. The impact was in terms of decrease in interest rates, principally those charged by moneylenders, within the community; availability of better financial services in the hills; establishment and expansion of markets in the community; and build-up of social capital.
Contribution towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
The financial services provided by the co-operatives had contributed to increasing the incomes of the people in the hills. Similarly, capacity-building activities such as technical services, training, etc provided cooperatives for their members had contributed to creating self employment opportunities and increasing their incomes. In addition, their activities had contributed to women’s empowerment, educational status, health and sanitation situation, and asset accumulation of the client base, thus improving the well-being of the people living in geographically difficult areas. These, in turn, had contributed to the government’s poverty alleviation efforts. In addition, the involvement of cooperatives in community development activities had contributed to the development efforts of the country as well as to addressing the development issues of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The cooperatives model was effective in providing financial and social services for the community people living in the hills. This model has, therefore, a role to play in poverty reduction and development in remote hill areas. Therefore, the government programmes and/or I/NGOs should continue to promote the poverty-focused cooperatives model to improve access of financial services to the poor in the remote hill areas.
Self-promoted versus Programme-promoted Cooperatives
The self-promoted cooperatives had better financial performance and better performance in book- and record-keeping than the programme-promoted ones had. The programme promoted cooperatives, on the other hand, were strong in community development and in reaching the poor. The self-promoted cooperatives were strong in financial management because the promoters of these cooperatives were social elites who had experience in the field of micro-finance, banking and cooperatives. On the other hand, the programme promoted cooperatives were strong in the areas of community development and targeting the poor because of the mandatory provision of their promoters. Again, the self-promoted cooperatives had better outreach in terms of membership size and were providing a greater variety of savings and credit products to their members in comparison to the programme-promoted ones. Looking at conditions such as geographical remoteness, low level of cooperative education, high illiteracy, lack of financial management skills in remote hilly areas, the self-promoted coperatives model, without any capacity building and technical assistance package, may not be widely replicable. Therefore, the government and non-government programmes should promote cooperatives in rural hilly areas, along with capacity building and technical assistance package, for the first few years so that they can serve the poor people as sustainable micro-finance institutions (MFIs).
The donor agencies should focus their support on promoting international best practices adapted to the national context.
Improvement in cooperative Services
Many cooperative members were found seeking different sources of loan, which implies that the existing financial services provided by cooperatives were not sufficient to cater to the needs of their members.
Therefore, cooperatives should diversify their financial products as per the needs of members, for which they should conduct market research. Although the sample cooperatives intended to provide diversified loan services, they could not do so for insufficient capital base. Therefore, they should raise the required capital either internally or by accessing funds from external lending agencies. The programme-promoted cooperatives had more focus on social intervention than the self-promoted ones.
Therefore, the self-promoted cooperatives should initiate social intermediation programmes such as literacy, health awareness campaign, skill development training and community development activities to motivate as many community people as possible. It is not possible to meet such expenses from their own funds. They should explore additional resources from NGOs and donor agencies for the initiation of social intermediation programmes.
The GOs and/or I/NGOs operating in such areas should develop a forum that facilitates information exchange mechanism for cooperatives at local level.
Targeting the Poor
Although cooperatives, especially the self-promoted ones, had relatively great outreach, they had problems in reaching the ultra poor in their working areas. Their membership being voluntary, those who were aware and literate joined the programme and the poor were left behind. They had no special programme that emphasized motivating the poor to join them. Similarly, the existing products and services were not affordable for the poor community people.
Therefore, cooperatives should address these problems by developing strategies that would motivate the poor people to join them. cooperatives should receive training and technical assistance either from their own resources or through support of their promoters to increase their institutional capacity.
The activities of cooperatives were found effective in generating wider impact in their areas of operation in addition to the general impact on the livelihood of members at individual and household levels. Enhancing institutional capacity of hill-based cooperatives would increase their scope for generating wider impact. Furthermore, promotion and strengthening of cooperatives in remote hilly areas of the country would not only contribute to have wider impact but also to achieve the MDGs. Therefore, the government should design and implement policies that focus on the promotion and strengthening of cooperatives in rural hilly areas.