Development Partnership

A quick – and necessarily general – assessment of the state of co-operative development in Nepal may be made from three viewpoints: the target group involvement in co-operative activities, the intended sector coverage by co-operative businesses and the conspicuous socio-economic effect of co-operative action. Presented on a five-point qualitative scale – very high, high, medium, low and very low – most observers would agree to the following:

Table 1: Involvement in co-operative activities

Target groups

Level of involvement

Remarks

 

  • Farmers

High

Even though membership of co-operatives has reached 6.3 million, three of the six intended groups of participants stand at very low or low  level of involvement. 

  • Artisans 

Low

  • Workers

Very Low

  • Consumers

 

  • Savings and credit services

Very High

  • Goods and other services

Very low

  • Cross-classified segments of the population (e.g. women, persons with disabilities, people living below the national poverty line) 

Medium

   Table 2: Intended sector coverage by co-operative businesses

Sectors

Level of intensely

Remarks

  • Agriculture

 

Co-operative work is apparently concentrated on the paper economy.

  • Pre-production services

Medium

  • Post-production services 

Low

  • Industry

Very low

  • Service

 

  • Financial

Very high

  • Non-financial

 

  • Retailing

Very low

  • Health care

Medium

  • Other (e.g. transport, communication, labour contracting)

Low

  • Energy

Very low

 

Table 3: Socio- Economic effect of co-operative action

Spheres

Level of effect

Remarks

  • Production

Medium

The social effect of Co-operation is more discernible than its economic effect.

  • Consumption

Very low

  • Employment

 

  • In agriculture  

Medium

  • Elsewhere

Very low

  • Support price of farm produce

 

  • Milk

High

  • Other

Low

  • Consumer price level

Very Low

  • Interest rates

 

  • On savings

High

  • On loans

Low

  • Women's empowerment

Very high

  • Social inclusion

High

Generally speaking, the 'very  lows' or 'lows' in the tables above represent departmental priorities. For instance, Table 1 indicates that not many workers have organised  into co-operatives. The Department, therefore, intends to promote workers' co-operatives.

All levels need to be considered carefully, however. Savings mobilisation is a case in point. Despite a very high level of co-operative savings and credit activities, little is visible in terms of interest rates, i.e. the cost of borrowing remains to be high.  This means that co-operatives are not truly controlled by ordinary members and may even have been misused by a few of them.  Proper regulation of co-operative   savings and loan services is therefore a top priority of the Department.

Likewise, while women make up the majority of membership, they are not adequately represented in leadership. The Department is encouraging female leaders in many ways, not least by way of its training and development efforts.

Corrective –  as opposed to restrictive –  regulation, supportive promotion and need-responsive training and development   present a real challenge to the Department. To assist its own efforts, the Department would welcome development  co-operation on the part of willing agencies. As knowledge is the much-needed resource, a fruitful partnership may centre around 'knowing together initiatives'.