Participatory rural appraisal for a vibrant co-operative sector

Cooperatives in general are considered to be in crisis, dominated by self-centered and short-sighted outsiders seeking power. The Primary Agricultural Cooperatives (PACs) in India, which were considered to be the nucleus of rural life, have lost their values and character and appear to have nothing to do with the people whom they were intended to benefit. This is due to: the PACs' failure to recycle credit effectively; their failure to become self-supporting; and intervention and interference in the form of State partnership. The three factors are closely interrelated. The failure to recycle funds results in excessive dependence or loss of self-reliance, leading to a gradual increase in State intervention. Members become isolated from their own organisations. This paper looks at PACs in India and whether financial intervention through state partnership and questions whether it could solve the problems of PACs. The concept of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) is examined and suggested as a possible approach to sort out the problems of PACs. PRA may be appropriate for revitalising primary agricultural credit co-operatives. Abstract supplied by kind permission of CABI.