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Summary of country papers


The Rural Development and Cooperative Division (RDCD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Regional Development and Cooperatives coordinates rural development activities/programmes of cooperatives through the Bangladesh Rural Development Board, the Bangladesh Academy of Rural Development, the Rural Development Academy and the Department of Cooperatives. The RDCD also coordinates rural development activities of other ministers and provides various policy guidelines to the government.

The Government is implementing a rural cooperative programme with a new approach of "one-village-one-cooperative society". A project has been initiated to computerize the manual data processing system of the cooperative department which is the sole source of cooperative sector data in the country. Nearly 2 000 cooperators are to be trained under this project.

As a priority, the author of the paper recommended that computer and internet facilities should be introduced first at the basic upazilla level which is the prime source of information. IT training programmes are needed for both employees and management of agricultural cooperatives. Another suggestion was to initiate an IT networking programme for successful agro-business cooperatives. All cooperative training institutes should be provided with computer facilities to provide IT training to cooperators and cooperative officials.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in Bangladesh



· Planning to train 2 000 cooperators per year

· Planning to deliver computer hardware to upazila-level cooperatives

· Large irrigation cooperative societies and milk producers' cooperatives to be provided IT training

· Planning to modernize manual data collection and processing

· Facilities to train 7 000 people annually

· Programme to deliver IT training/equipment to agricultural cooperatives

· "One village-one cooperative" government policy

· Planned programmes still to be designed, funded and implemented

· Cooperative Training Institute lacks computer laboratory

· Low literacy level in the country


Since 1989, there has been continuous growth in the number of Farmer Special Cooperatives (FSCs) with the development of agricultural specialization and marketing. There are 150 000 FSCs in the country. Although most are still in the primary and intermediate development stages, more and more FSCs are reaching advanced stages of development.

Starting in 1990, community cooperatives in some developed provinces began to use computers for statistical and asset administration, as well as contract management, among other business activities. Computerization of community cooperatives began in all provincial administrations from 1998. Two-thirds of the provinces have made plans for computerization. For example, in the Guandong province, 11.9 percent of the villages have been computerized and four counties have set up computer networks between the county and towns; 59 towns have established computer networks between towns and villages; and 176 villages have computer networks between villages and groups.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in China



· A large number of cooperatives, with about 33 percent roughly categorized as agricultural cooperatives

· Computers being used since 1990s mainly for data processing, statistics collection and accounting

· Government active in introducing IT to rural areas

· No cooperative law in China

· Most cooperatives are not full-fledged, but function at primary and intermediate stages

· No internal savings and good distribution system

· Cooperation among cooperatives not well realized


Starting in the early 1970s, emphasis was given to education and training for cooperative enterprise development. A network of education/training institutes under the umbrella of the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) offers a wide range of cooperative development programmes such as computer training for cooperative personnel up to the Master's level. Some Institutes of Cooperative Management are also engaged in software and network development. Computerization of agricultural cooperatives began 10 years ago; in Kerala State, 100 primary agricultural cooperatives have been computerized and simplified their work.

Under cooperative legislation and policy introduced in 2002, cooperatives are to be supported as autonomous, self-reliant and democratically managed institutions. The Government has set up a task force to formulate an action programme to improve professionalism, human resources development, management and the use of IT in cooperatives.

Despite computerization, the continued growth in the size and business volume of cooperatives has resulted in a significant backlog in data collection. The latest information available is for 1997-1998. The planning and monitoring of the programmes continues with the age-old manual system developed by the government which is complex, time consuming, less accurate and no longer serving policy-makers and planners. In addition, there is excessive government control, many non-viable cooperatives, a lack of transfer of technology, as well as a lack of effective manpower planning and development at the cooperative level.

With a view to developing a national resource centre of cooperative information, the National Cooperative Development Board (NCDB) of NCUI is streamlining the data collection, compilation and communication system. NCUI has simplified the data collection formats. NCDB has produced a series of ten Indian cooperative movement - A profile, which provide data and an analytical study of credit and non-credit cooperatives to assist policy-makers and planners. NCUI also offers computer training/consultancy on databank development to member organizations.

A standard software has been designed for all cooperative societies in the country to monitor activities from the lowest to the highest level, take stock of daily rural credit delivery, ensure utilization of funds and improve recovery positions. This will also promote transparency and establish institutional credibility among members.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in India



· IT is one of the Indian Government's four main policy objectives for development of cooperatives

· Computerization began 10 years ago

· IT training for cooperatives is well-established, with Master's-level accreditation

· In Kerala, 200 primary agricultural cooperatives have been computerized

· Data collection formats have been streamlined and simplified

· IT being introduced in a phase manner starting with viable cooperatives

· Primary focus on data collection to move later towards market information and networking

· ICT connectivity

· Wired Village Project with sugar cooperatives in Maharashtra State

· Regional imbalances in the development of cooperatives/lack of planning

· Poor market information system

· Poor technology transfer

· Lack of national and regional network

· Data collection system still manual

· Excessive government control

· Monitoring a formality

· Fifty percent of grassroots cooperative personnel untrained

· Many societies do not have a full-time manager

· Business criteria 15 years outdated

· Government spends too much time on data collection and not enough time on expertise and policy development


The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) has embarked on a number of strategies to prepare farmers to face the challenges of market liberalization and globalization. One of these is to use the latest technologies in the management of farms to increase output and productivity.

Farmers' institutions must use IT-based technology to improve the quality and range of services to their members who need the latest price and market information about commodities and crops they plan to grow and sell. Farmers' Organizations (FOs) must be able to help farmers sell their produce and make other market transactions. Farmers need timely reports on their financial status with the FOs as well as the financial position of the FOs.

The obstacles to computerization for data collection, analysis and exchange include inadequate IT expertise and personnel to guide/advise agricultural cooperative staff at all levels. There is also a lack of detail/reliability at all levels in data collection and analysis. The data collection format is sometimes not suited for computerization, which results in misunderstanding.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in Malaysia



· Statistics on agricultural cooperatives collected every four months

· IT training provided through five training centers

· Action plans for more training, internet village programmes, encouragement to farmers' organizations and agricultural cooperatives to take the initiative in this field

· Malaysian government very serious about introduction of IT in the country

· Cost of internet is very low compared to other countries

· Limited expertise in computers

· Lack of IT staff

· Lack of reliability in data collection; not completed on time

· Data collected is often subjective and hard to report


Agricultural cooperatives in the country must modernize data collection systems in order to adapt to the competitive business environment. The National Cooperative Development Board (NCDB) plans to install a computer networking system for cooperatives during the fiscal year 2004/05.

The constraints in collecting cooperative data/information include the fact that agricultural cooperatives have not maintained proper records as they were not trained for this. The cooperatives are unable to provide data in the prescribed format and are reluctant to furnish data regularly to the government. The provision of IT facilities will enable proper and timely collection, analysis and sharing of data/information.

During the Tenth Five Year Plan (1992-1997), modern information technology is to be used to disseminate agro-information to rural areas. The present structure of the cooperative sector is also to be reviewed to strengthen the data system. The National Cooperative Development Board has been broadcasting activities of cooperatives jointly with the Agriculture Information and Communication Center of His Majesty's Government.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in Nepal



· 10th 5-year plan for modern IT to disseminate agro-information to rural areas

· Agricultural radio programme

· Agricultural cooperatives engaged in business activities

· Non-viable cooperatives

· Lack of management, training, market intelligence, policy and networking

· Many localities without electric power

· Lack of funds for hardware/software/training

· Cooperatives reluctant to submit progress reports; data not reliable

· Available data not accessible to cooperatives


Given its achievements in micro-finance, the cooperative sector in the Philippines faces the challenge of providing a more entrepreneurial environment to its members in terms of investment, production and marketing.

The Agricultural Credit and Cooperative Institute at the College of Public Affairs provides short-term training on effective governance. This includes leadership development and value-formation, policy development and decision-making, financial management, strategic management, human resource development for effective governance, application of IT for monitoring and evaluation, and cooperative entrepreneurship.

A strategic plan to use IT for ACED should ensure timely access to information for future decisions on products, research, production technology, organization and marketing. The availability of well trained local personnel should enable cooperatives to utilize modern technologies and advanced organizational schemes.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in the Philippines



· An IT action plan for agricultural cooperatives

· Most wealthy cooperatives already computerized

· Cooperatives have relatively strong financial base

· Initiatives necessarily centralized

· Government lacks funds for cooperative development

Sri Lanka

The Government plans to provide IT training to cooperative societies and other cooperative institutions. Arrangements have been made to computerize data collection on cooperatives. The Agriculture Research and Training Centre attached to the Ministry of Agriculture issues daily prices of agricultural commodities which are disseminated by the electronic media.

Lack of funds and a shortage of computer-trained personnel at the rural level are keeping the cooperative sector from making adequate use of IT. At present, government funds are not available for IT training of cooperatives for which external financial assistance and cooperatives' own funds are being used. There is no computer networking between the Cooperative Department and the Provincial Cooperative Movement.

Awareness programmes on the importance of IT are being conducted in the cooperative sector. The National Institute of Cooperative Development, Polgolla offers diploma courses in computer technology.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in Sri Lanka



· Computer technology used by national cooperative council in marketing federations, coconut production, rural banks and cooperative departments

· Computers provided by central government's cooperative department to eight provincial cooperative departments

· Plans to collect data through computer network

· Daily prices of agricultural commodities are issued

· Computer training offered by National Institute of Cooperative Development, Polgolla

· Lack of funds to hire computer-trained people

· Difficult to obtain services of computer people

· Need for external financial resources

· Lack of software and hardware


The Government's Cooperative Promotion Department (CPD) and Cooperative Auditing Department provide auditing/business management software to cooperatives. The CPD also offers training courses for its staff and personnel of cooperative businesses.

The CPD is responsible for data collection on cooperatives and the Department's internet site provides information to cooperatives. The Department is planning a computer network among cooperatives and the CPD.

Cooperatives do not make sufficient use of IT because of lack of equipment and skilled personnel. The collection/analysis of data and exchange of this information are also hampered by lack of appropriate software and funds.

Strengths and weaknesses in computerization of agricultural cooperatives in Thailand



· Target of 1 000 out of a total of 4 000 agricultural cooperatives in the country to be computerized

· Variety of software programmes, both private and public implemented

· Six different software programmes implemented for agricultural cooperatives

· CPD website provides information to cooperatives

· Plan to network cooperatives and CPD

· Computer systems used for data collection for 15 years

· 10 training centers in country

· Lack of software/hardware

· Lack of skilled personnel

· Lack of funds

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