International day of cooperatives celebrated in Bhutan
The International Day of Co-operatives is celebrated on the first Saturday of July every year, which lands us this year on 4 July 2015. The International Day of Cooperatives’ purpose is to increase awareness on cooperatives and promote the movement’s successes and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace.
The International Day also aims to strengthen and extend partnerships between the international co-operative movement and other actors, including governments, at local, national and international levels.
The theme for year is “Equity “and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests is mandated to implement the Co-operative (Amendment) Act of Bhutan (CAB) 2009 and to exercise this mandate, the Department of Agriculture Marketing and Co-operatives (DAMC) was established.
The reason for choosing equality is that it counts among the six guiding values for cooperative enterprises, and open and voluntary membership is one of the principles to which cooperatives subscribe. Cooperative enterprises also have a “one member, one vote” system, which ensures that decision making powers are equally shared amongst their members. Being people-centered enterprises, cooperatives focus on the needs of their members and of the communities in which they operate, rather than on financial returns alone.
As of now there is one federation, 40 Co-operatives and 263 Farmer Groups have been registered under the CAB, 2009 consisting more than 7647 members out of which female members constitute 46% of the total membership. To categorize the Farmer Groups and Co-operatives sector wise. 46.5% of them are engaged in the Agriculture sector, 36.3% in the Livestock sector, 14.9% in the Forestry sector and 2.3% engaged in the non-renewable Natural Resource (RNR) sector.
The government has been promoting cooperatives for the well being of communities and to ensure a strong and sustainable pillar of the private sector that contributes to the economic development of the Bhutanese society, especially the economically deprived. In addition to the regulatory functions, the government also provides support for the economic development of Co-operatives in terms of capacity building and financial support where necessary and possible. The Government hopes that with the support provided, the co-operatives realize their purposes, strengthen and sustain their capacity for self-reliance, selfmanagement and grow to stand on their own as autonomous enterprises and as partners of Government in development.
Benefits of forming co-operatives are manifold which includes from combination of resources (man power, capital, innovative ideas and knowledge) and its mobilization, creation of employment, effective management, group marketing, strengthen bargaining power, cost sharing, sharing of surpluses, continuity, easier access to finance, capacity building and Government support, co-operatives also promote community group dynamics, strengthen the weaker sections of society, guarantees equal empowerment and contributes to poverty alleviation.
Complementary to the seven co-operative principles of voluntary and open membership; equal voting rights with effective member governance; equitable member contribution; autonomy and independence; education; co-operation and concern for community. Success of Co-operatives depends on selfless leadership; competent management; equal participation; co-operative working; transparent dealings; accountability; member co-operation and support; sense of purpose and most importantly equal share in surpluses benefits.
In order to observe the day Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay along with representatives of cooperatives and the RNR family met at a reforestation site and planted asparagus between tree saplings.
In December 16, 1992 the UN General Assembly proclaimed the first Saturday of July 1995 as the International Day of Cooperatives, marking the centenary of ICA’s establishment.