I am pleased to join the cooperative community around the world in general and the Bhutanese co-operators in particular in wishing all a Very Happy International Day of Cooperatives (IDC) on 1st July. I am delighted to learn that the theme for this year’s International Day of Co-operatives, is inclusion with the slogan “co-operatives ensure no one is left behind”. Inclusion is a theme that is heart and soul of the development ethos of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Cooperative enterprises provide livelihoods for millions of people across the globe. Regardless of race, gender, culture, social background or economic circumstance, through the cooperative model, each one can aspire to fulfill their dreams for better livelihood and better communities
Though the cooperative movement in Bhutan is still at its infancy as compared to the movement in some other countries, the cooperative model is very relevant in our setting, particularly in enhancing inclusivity of the poorest of the poor in the country. Though agriculture is a predominant economic sector and we have been farming since time immemorial, our farming community still faces innumerable challenges. The very mountainous topography means our average farm sizes are small and often isolated, mechanization is challenging, irrigation where required is expensive and the costs of transportation to bring in inputs and dispatch final produce to markets can be very expensive. When confronted with such impediments, working together in groups and co-operatives to accrue the benefits of economy of scale is an important development strategy.
This year, in keeping with the theme of inclusivity, the International Cooperatives Day, 2017 will be celebrated with the members of farmers group and co-operatives of Mongar Dzongkhag. The celebration will focus on creating greater awareness on the importance of the cooperatives in fulfilling their socio-economic aspirations.
I take this opportunity to wish all groups and co-operatives in Bhutan a very bright and successful future. For those co-operatives not doing too well, I urge the members not to despair and disintegrate but to seek the support of the government and attempt to turn your group into one that serves its purpose socially and economically.
Happy International Cooperative Day. Tashi Delek.
Minister of Agriculture and Forests
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