COOPERATIVE FARMING IN PAKISTAN
PROF. SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI
Sep 3 - 9, 2012
Cooperative Farming is the voluntary organization under which the farmers, through accumulated resources and mutual help, cultivate having a common objective so that the agricultural production may be improved and increased with the help of new methods and techniques.
Agriculture, directly or indirectly, is the occupation of entire rural population and most of the industries are also agro-based in Pakistan. In other words, agriculture is the biggest sector of production activities but it is not under the control of the government. The farmers cultivate freely on the individual basis. Nevertheless, the government has established different institutions for providing assistance and advisory services in the agricultural sector. Cooperative farming is the scheme introduced by the government for seeking participation of the farmers in developing and modernizing the agricultural sector of the country.
It should be noted at this stage that cooperative farming is not the only solution to all the agricultural problems but simply an effort which can make the economic condition of the rural community/farmers better.
The cooperative society pools its resources through different methods; first, through acquiring the proprietary rights of lands and management of the lands of its members second, through acquiring the management rights of the member's land and third, through leaving the rights of ownership and management of the lands of the members with them but acquiring the rights of providing agricultural inputs, seeds, fertilizers, water, machines and sale of products and last, acquiring the rights of provision of agricultural inputs only.
The first two types of cooperative societies are not found in Pakistan because Pakistani farmers, being emotionally attached with the rights of ownership on their lands, do not agree to forego these rights. The last two types of societies can easily be introduced under which agricultural inputs and seeds are provided by the cooperative society to the members.
The first experience of cooperative farming was made in 1948 which, due to reasons, could not be a success and refuge was sought in converting the term 'cooperative farming' into 'group farming'. After the implementation of Second Five Year Plan, cooperative farming program was adopted on the large scale under the Federal Government. Pilot projects of cooperative farming were initiated in all the four provinces of the country.
ADVANTAGES OF COOPERATIVE FARMING
By adopting cooperative farming, advantages of enhanced and quality agricultural production can be achieved like:
1. PROSPECTS OF MECHANIZED FARMING
As a result of division, sub-division and fragmentation, the farm sizes have been squeezed to the minimum on which mechanized farming is neither feasible nor possible but cooperative farming, through consolidation of holdings, can make it possible through enlarging the farm sizes.
2. COLLECTIVE INTEREST
When the objective of small farmers becomes common, their gains and losses also become common and so they work with the mutual cooperation. Consequently, collective interest is preferred over the individual interest which can guarantee the safeguard of individual interest too.
3. CURTAIL IN COST
It is not possible to spend heavy amount individually on the purchase of machines used in mechanized farming but pooling of resources of many small farmers can make it possible to purchase tractor, harvester, thresher etc. Mechanized farming, in this manner, curtails not only the cost of production but improves and increases its volume also.
4. REASONABLE PRICES
As a result of cooperative farming, the middleman ship is eliminated guaranteeing genuine and reasonable prices for cultivators. Reasonable prices can improve living standard cultivators through increased income.
5. BETTER TECHNOLOGY
Cooperative farming makes not only the future of mechanized farming bright but also creates opportunity of research. The farmers, in this way, leave the old and traditional methods of cultivation and adopt new and modern technology of production increasing per hectare output.
6. AVAILABILITY OF AGRICULTURAL INPUTS
As a result of cooperative farming, shortage of finances does not block the way of development. Agricultural inputs (irrigation water, testified seeds, insecticides pesticides etc.) are provided timely and promptly when and where required.
FAILURE OF COOPERATIVE FARMING
Advantages of cooperative farming, no doubt, are unlimited but they could not be cultivated in Pakistan. Different cooperative farming societies came into being but they could not survive because:
1. There is a lack of sense and feelings of cooperation and brotherhood amongst the Pakistani farmers due to their division into various casts, creeds and groups.
2. Consolidation of small holdings is necessary for cooperative farming but the farmers of Pakistan don't want to forego the rights of ownership on the landed property because owning the land is taken as the sign of prestige in the rural community.
3. Generally, the officer bearers of the societies turn into dishonest. Unjust partiality of the friends members, favoritism and patronizing the relatives are the causes of cooperative farming failure in Pakistan. Once a member assumes the office, he wants to retain this position throughout his life using every fair and fowl for this purpose.
4. Pakistani farmers are generally illiterate and tied with the apron of traditions and customs therefore, they do not welcome any radical and constructive change.
5. The cooperative farming societies, due to financial constrains, are not capable to afford and adopt modern and rapid changes in the existing cultivation methods and techniques.