3.a) The new rural cooperative system for Comilla Thana
In accordance with the structure of the project area having
a central town with a strong socioeconomic influence an a
larger number of villages and the limited abilities of the
peasants, the new cooperative system was organized as a two
Primary societies have been organized in individual villages.
It was expected that it would not be possible to form groups
consisting of several villages and that because of factions
not even all farmers of one village but only some of them
could be organized. These villages societies, with a membership
of less than 50, were too small to be business cooperatives
but were thought of as aid cooperatives helping the higher
tier of the system to perform its functions. These outposts
helped in the communication, distribution, collection of savings
and extension of agricultural techniques from the central
cooperative to the peasants.
Thana Central Cooperative Association
Individual village cooperatives are united in the higher
tier, the activities of which are those of a business cooperative.
This Cooperative supervises the activities of the village
cooperatives, such as saving, utilization of credit and division
of profit into investment savings. The constant supervision
of resource use, in particular, ensures the high investment
rate. Besides, the Central Cooperative Association supplied
all such services which can not be organized at the village
level, like machines, marketing, processing, etc. An important
aspect of the relation between Central Cooperative Association
and village societies is the constant training given by the
Association which will be discussed below.
Some features of the activities of cooperative societies
deserve special mention.
1. Capital formation
Rural development is looked upon as an undertaking which
requires much investment. In order to make the capital available,
each member is required to save at least 50 paisas (Pak Rs
0.50) a week. This sum is collected at the weekly night meeting
and deposited into the account of the Central Association.
In making this request, the scheme deviates from the tradition
of cooperative development in many countries which usually
promises something like cheap credit to the peasants. Here,
duties are assigned and the saving which is supposed to develop
into habit is rigidly enforced. With this policy, a considerable
amount of capital formation has been achieved.
2. Supervised credit
A new credit system has been developed to replace the traditional
moneylender. Credit requirements of individual members have
to be included in the request of the village society and have
to be based an a production plan. As a rule, at least ten
per cent should be covered by savings and shares of the particular
member. This determines the top limit of the credit to be
granted. The credit, usually in kind, is made available at
appropriate time and is issued to the societies and not to
individuals. The societies remain responsible for proper use
and repayment. The central cooperative charges six per cent
interest plus five per cent for supervision expenses. The
cost of supervision is rather high, but as a result of the
strict supervision, the repayment rate is 99 per cent. Repayment
is made in cash or to a proportion of about 50 per cent in
3. Maintenance of discipline
In order to establish and maintain a disciplined pattern
of work in the village societies, the duties assigned to them,
like weekly savings, regular meetings, etc., are controlled
and the right of the Central Cooperative Association to dissolve
inactive village societies or dismiss inactive members has
been made use of.
4. Membership of non farmers
While initially most of the members have been farmers, in
recent times more and more non farmers obtained membership.
Their benefit is more limited and their main interest lies
an the credit side. For instance, landless labour use the
credit they can get by savings of ten per cent of the credit
amount to pay the rent of a piece of land and become tenants.