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OP-ED: Inspiring farmers to stand and work together

  • Published at 09:34 pm September 7th, 2020
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Photo: Dhaka Tribune

Co-operative societies can sustain livelihoods in rural communities

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Bangladeshi farmers who work so that we can have food on our plates are going through a serious crisis. According to a Brac survey conducted in June, this year, farmers lost Tk56,536.88 crore nationally in estimated income in one and a half months. 

These figures, along with the hardships of the poor farmers, must have escalated even more. They are going through such a dire situation because of the challenges, which are not limited to insufficient manpower or vendors not buying their crops because of the pandemic.

The flood, due to which a third of the whole country is under water, has also worsened the farmers’ situation gravely. Their crops got ruined and animals used for agricultural purposes died or were washed away.

The roads are also flooded, so sending any help to them now has become difficult. The coronavirus and flood together have devastated the farmers. Now the helpless farmers are passing their days in utter despair, waiting for death to free them and their families from the unbearable misery.

The financially unstable farmers suffer through problems the most. Wealthy farmers are getting through all these odds, thanks to their financial stability. A rich farmer can invest in resources that will help him grow crops cost effectively, transport them trouble-free, and warehouse them safely in adverse circumstances. But a poverty-stricken farmer is unable to avail these.

Does this mean that to survive in tough times like now, one must be well off? To endure critical situations and flourish, people must be united. As the old saying goes: “United we stand, divided we fall.” 

If all the farmers of a certain area stand together with what they have and drive their farming business collectively in an organized manner, then every one of them will benefit greatly. To do this, they can form a co-operative society.

This way, the people from a specific area can form an organization and meet their common economic requirements. Co-operative societies are mainly instituted by the small and medium enterprises’ (SME) owners to do their businesses profitably, competing with large business owners.  The farmers can form and run such a co-operative society for their own benefit by obeying the Co-operative Societies Act of Bangladesh. 

Forming a co-operative society will allow the farmers to accumulate funds and resources equivalent to what moneyed farmers typically operate their businesses with. By utilizing this, the poor farmers will also be able to function and enjoy advantages like a large farming businesses. Co-operative societies already exist in our country, not only among farmers but also among other SME owners. Still, maximum farmers in most areas are not acquainted with this system yet. 

Hence, the government should play its part by letting them know what a co-operative society is and what benefits they can enjoy if they form one. This will inspire farmers greatly to work together by instituting such organizations and achieve greater success.

Co-operatives will not only let the farmers tackle poverty, but new employment will be created as well. Moreover, members of co-operative societies have equal voting rights irrespective of their amount of investment as co-operatives are democratic organizations.

Influential presence, low taxes, government support, limited liability, and stable existence are also among the many plus points of a co-operative society. Such organizations will play a vital role in alleviating the sorrows of farmers and let them attain solvency. This initiative will significantly contribute to national economic improvement too.

Nafis Ehsas Chowdhury is Business Leader (President) of Birshreshtha Noor Mohammad Public College Business Club.

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