Staff Reporter

If a one-time payment of Rs.100 crore is given to the sector

Minister stresses need to promote farming

Loan at 4% interest for paddy, vegetable farming

KOCHI: Cooperation Minister G. Sudhakaran has said that if the cooperative sector is given Rs.100 crore as a one-time payment, it will be able to control the price of essential commodities effectively by setting up fair value centres across the State.

Mr. Sudhakaran was speaking after inaugurating a digital multimedia library for the visually challenged at the EMS Library in Kakkanad, promoted by the Ernakulam District Cooperative Bank.

The Minister said that if the assistance was forthcoming, at least 10 fair value centres would be opened in all the panchayats by the cooperative sector.

“It is vital that agriculture picked up so that there is no scarcity of products to be sold through these centres at reduced prices,” he said. The concept would not be feasible if the products are to be secured from neighbouring States at higher prices, he said.

He said that Supplyco (Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation) and the cooperative sector outlets were able to control prices during the Onam season despite reports of multinational and national giants entering the retail segment.

He said the cooperative sector was lending loans for vegetable and paddy cultivation at an unprecedented low interest rate of 4 per cent. “For all other forms of farming, the interest rate is not more than 7 per cent,” he said.

He said no one should interfere in the public interest initiatives of the cooperative sector in the name of rules and regulations, as it would destroy the sector. Unnecessary intervention by the Government or the Minister would not help the cause of the cooperative sector. “The role of Ministers is more of a watchdog,” he said.

Reading habit

The Minister said no reliable statistics were available on the libraries and books available for access in the State. “Any factual assessment of the reading habit of the State would require the support of such statistics,” he said.

The digital library facility, the first of its kind in the entire south India, has been set up at an initial cost of Rs.5 lakh. It will feature a text-reading machine for reading print manuals with a speech feedback. The machine can be connected to a computer for large size to complement speech so that it will help those with low vision.

The second phase of the project will see the installation of a Braille printer to convert English language books for the visually challenged. Efforts are on to develop a software enabling the reading of Malayalam books, M.M. Monayi, MLA, president of the district cooperative bank, said.

K. Babu, MLA, presided. K.A. Chandrashekharan of Faith India, an organisation for the rehabilitation of the visually challenged, distributed the first membership for the visually challenged.