In­ter­na­tional day of co­op­er­a­tives cel­e­brated in Bhutan

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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.

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