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Credit cooperatives are regarded as an
important source of agricultural credit for the vast majority of farmers in
rural India. Institutions of Cooperative Credit had their launching in India
after the enactment of Cooperative Societies Act of 1904 with the objective of
emancipating the farmers from the clutches of money lenders. After independence
a lot of efforts have been made by the Government of India and the State
Governments to make the credit cooperatives efficient and farmer friendly.
Indian economy is primarily agrarian in nature with more than 70% of the
people living in rural areas. Agriculture happens to be the mainstay of
livelihood for about 50% of the population of the country. Over the years
cooperative credit has made phenomenal expansion in terms of membership
coverage, credit advance etc. Primary Agricultural Cooperative Society (PACS)
operates at the village level to cater to the credit needs of the farmers in
rural areas. It may be observed that, the PACS is the foundation on which the
entire cooperative structure is built upon. However many PACS suffer from small
size, infrastructural weakness, operational inefficiency and structural flaws.
In this context a number of Committees have been formed since 1945 starting
from Cooperative Planning Committee to the latest, the Vaidyanathan Committee
where recommendations were made to strengthen the cooperatives in the country.
On the above backdrop the present article attempts to study the growth of
cooperative credit particularly Primary Agricultural Credit Society (PACS) in
terms of number of societies, membership, deposits, number of borrowers, loan
advanced in India. It also focuses on the measures taken by different
committees to revamp and revitalize the PACS. The study is primarily based on
secondary data collected from the National federation of State Cooperative
Banks Ltd. (NAFSCOB) and other published sources.