Farmers’ groups and co-operatives are gaining popularity, according to the department of agricultural marketing and co-operatives’ annual report 2017-18.

During the fiscal year, the department registered a total of 55 farmers’ groups and 12 co-operatives. Forty-three of them were livestock-based; 24 were agriculture-based.

There were a total 10,948 members as of June 2018. The report states that women comprise 46.62 percent of the total members.

The farmers’ groups and cooperatives are being encouraged to achieve economy of scale and to make farming a viable and attractive business venture.

The report states that the department is also introducing saving and credit schemes for the groups to encourage the habit of thrift and saving among the members and to help them diversify their business.

Two farmers’ groups in Samtse and a group each in Dagana, Chukha, Tashigang, and Samdrupjongkhar, have introduced saving and credit in addition to their core business. These groups are also provided with savings passbooks and trained on how to use them.

In the past years, for the purpose of counting the number of jobs created by co-operatives and farmers’ groups, three office bearers – chairman, secretary, and treasurer – were considered as new jobs created irrespective of whether they were paid or not.

However, the report states that it was decided in the 2017-18 Annual Performance Agreement that only regularly paid employees would be counted as employed.

Using this new definition, a total of 161 new paid jobs were created in the various farmers’ groups and cooperatives and farm shops in the fiscal year 2017-18.

The department facilitates agricultural produce marketing and development of the co-operative sector.

MB Subba