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In-Depth Jobs


Issue no 11, 10 - 16 June 2023

Export Cooperative Societies: Fostering Growth, Fuelling Jobs

Manisha Paliwal

Cooperatives have long been recognised as a powerful tool for economic and social development in India. They have also contributed to the generation of employment opportunities for millions of people, especially in rural areas, by providing them with access to markets, credit, inputs, technology, and training. In recent years, cooperatives have emerged as a new platform for export promotion in India, by tapping into the potential of value-added products, niche markets, and global value chains. According to the reports from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, India's overall exports (merchandise and services combined) in August 2021 were USD 52.20 billion, exhibiting a positive growth of 33.99 percent over the same period last year and a positive growth of 19.89 percent over August 2019. Some of the top export destinations for India in 2021-22 were the United States, China, Bangladesh, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. The Government has set up specialised agencies such as the National Cooperative Development Corporation and the Small Farmers' Agribusiness Consortium to provide financial and technical assistance to cooperatives. Some impressive feats of exportoriented cooperatives in India are the organic cotton cooperatives in Maharashtra and Gujarat, the dairy cooperatives in Gujarat and Karnataka, the spice cooperatives in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, and the handicraft cooperatives in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. These cooperatives have created thousands of jobs for their members and their communities, while enhancing their skills, quality, innovation, and income. The cooperatives contribute 28.80% in fertiliser production, 35% in fertiliser distribution, 30.60% in sugar production, and 17.50% in milk in the national economy. However, their contribution to exports has remained negligible. The Ministry of Cooperation under the leadership of the first Cooperation Minister Shri Amit Shah has gone ahead with the registration of a National Multi-State Export Cooperative Society, which is expected to enhance the exportability of cooperative products. Cooperative societies at various levels - State, District, and Village level - can become members of this National Export Cooperative Society. The Cooperative Societies in India will be given opportunities for exporting their products in foreign countries. Export-oriented cooperatives can emerge as an important source of employment and income generation in many parts of India. These cooperatives provide employment opportunities to a large number of people, particularly women, who are often marginalised and excluded from the formal labour market. They also help to promote sustainable and inclusive economic growth by supporting small-scale producers and local communities.

 

Potential Benefits of Export Cooperative Society in India

Export-oriented cooperatives can offer various benefits for their members and their countries, such as increasing income, productivity, competitiveness, market access, bargaining power, and social inclusion. Export-oriented cooperatives can also contribute to the sustainable development goals by promoting environmental protection, fair trade practices, and gender equality. The Export Society for cooperatives in India is a new initiative aimed at promoting and facilitating the export of goods produced by cooperatives.

Benefits of Export Cooperative Societies

Access to Finance

The Export Society can provide cooperatives with access to finance which is often a major challenge for small and medium-sized enterprises. By pooling their resources, cooperatives can access larger amounts of finance, which will help them to expand their operations and improve their competitiveness.

Access to New Markets

The Export Society can help cooperatives to access new markets

Technical Assistance

The Export Society can provide technical assistance, training, and capacity building to cooperatives, which will help them to improve their competitiveness and increase their exports. This will help cooperatives to adopt best practices in production, marketing, and export procedures.

Reduction in Costs

By collaborating, cooperatives can lower their costs and enhance their efficiency. The Export Society can aid cooperatives in attaining economies of scale by consolidating their resources and expertise

Promotion of Cooperative Principles

The Export Society can assist in promoting the principles of cooperatives, including democratic ownership and control, as well as the equitable distribution of benefits. Through collaboration, cooperatives can enhance their collective bargaining power and negotiate improved prices for their products.

Employment and Export Cooperative Societies

The Export Cooperative Society will help in creating new opportunities for employment generation in the cooperative sector by increasing production, processing, and marketing of goods and services to match international standards and demand. It will also help in creating a strong brand image and reputation for Indian cooperative products in the global market. It will also help in achieving some of the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, such as promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth; achieving higher levels of economic productivity; improving resource efficiency; promoting developmentoriented policies; supporting productive activities; creating decent jobs; encouraging entrepreneurship; strengthening capacity for domestic value addition; increasing access to financial services; reducing youth unemployment; developing measures to eradicate forced labour, and promoting social dialogue. The Export Society will help in tapping this potential and enhancing the competitiveness of Indian cooperatives in the global market. This will also contribute to the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) by making Indian cooperatives more self-reliant, resilient, and sustainable.

 

 

Job Creation Potential

In 2020, the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) estimated that exportoriented cooperatives could create up to 10 million new jobs in India over the next five years. The FIEO also called for greater government support to help export-oriented cooperatives scale up their operations and increase their competitiveness in the global market. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has also recognised the potential of cooperatives in creating jobs and promoting entrepreneurship. In a recent report, the RBI noted that cooperatives could play a significant role in reducing unemployment in rural areas by providing access to credit, training, and market linkages.

 

 

Diverse Array of Career Prospects

The establishment of a national export cooperative society with pan-India members has the potential to create a range of job opportunities across various sectors. An export cooperative society is a type of cooperative that helps its members to export their products and services to foreign markets. It can also provide support in areas such as procurement, storage, processing, marketing, branding, packaging, certification, research, and development. Some opportunities that may arise out of the establishment of an export cooperative society in India are as follows:

·         The potential to create jobs through Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs) in production, marketing, logistics, and quality control.

·         Help promote agri-entrepreneurship by providing training, mentoring, and access to finance

·         Create jobs in agri-processing, packaging, branding, and marketing of products.

·         Promote skill development among rural youth by providing training in areas such as quality control, packaging, and logistics.

·         Create job opportunities in logistics and transportation by providing efficient supply chain management and last-mile connectivity

·         Create job opportunities in support services viz. finance, legal, and technical consultancy.

 

 

Service-Oriented Job Opportunities

·         Export managers or coordinators who oversee the export operations and ensure compliance with international trade regulations and standards.

·         Export marketing executives or specialists who identify and develop new markets and customers for the cooperative's products and services.

·         Export documentation officers or assistants who prepare and process the required documents for export transactions such as invoices, bills, certificates of origin, etc.

·         Export logistics officers or assistants who arrange and monitor the transportation and delivery of the cooperative's products and services to foreign destinations

·         Export quality control officers or assistants who inspect and test the quality and safety of the cooperative's products and services before export.

·         Export finance officers or assistants who manage the financial aspects of export transactions such as payments, currency exchange, insurance, etc.

 

 

National Level Multi-State Cooperative Export Society

The establishment of a National Level Multi-State Cooperative Export Society by the Government of India is a significant step towards promoting the growth of exportoriented cooperatives in the country. This initiative is likely to provide cooperatives with access to new markets, technology, and finance, enabling them to increase their production and exports and create new job opportunities. Export cooperative societies have the potential to create significant employment opportunities and promote inclusive growth in various states of India.

 

 

Cooperatives and Sustainable Development

Goals Cooperatives play a significant role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in India across various sectors. Cooperatives in India have a multifaceted role in achieving the SDGs, addressing poverty, promoting economic growth, empowering marginalised groups, and contributing to sustainable development in various sectors. Their community-centric approach and inclusive business models make them valuable contributors to India's development agenda

 

 

Conclusion

Export through cooperatives in India can provide a new platform for employment by tapping the potential of the cooperative sector in various domains. It can also help improve the economic and social conditions of the cooperative members by increasing their income, security, and empowerment. Export cooperatives face challenges such as lack of infrastructure, finance, technology, and policy support. Timely government intervention and collaboration among different stakeholders are the need of the hour. The establishment of a national export cooperative society in India presents a new platform for employment generation and inclusive growth. With a vast agricultural and industrial base, India has the potential to become a leading exporter of agriculture and industrial products. Exportoriented member cooperatives can help achieve this goal by promoting entrepreneurship, skill development, and sustainable practices among rural and urban communities. The success stories of export cooperatives in various countries around the world provide a model for India to follow. With the right policies and support, export cooperative societies can become a catalyst for job creation and economic development in India. Therefore, it is time for India to harness the potential of export cooperatives and build a brighter future for its people.

 

(The author is Professor, Sri Balaji University, Pune, Maharashtra. mnpaliwal@gmail.com).

 

Views expressed are personal.