In conversation with Sonam Norbo, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Department, Leh

By Kunzang Chosdol LEH, Oct 03, 2017
The Cooperative movement was introduced during the 2nd five-year plan in Leh District and occupies a very important place in the economy of the District.   The department has been engaged in ensuring availability of essential commodities, market facilities to the farmers and Pashmina growers, promotion of local handicrafts and many other activities. Recently, Cooperative Super Bazaar ‘Bami Duniya Consumer Cooperative Store’ and ‘Cooperative Chemist Shop’ was also opened for the very first time in Leh District. 

Sonam Norbo is the Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Department of Leh. He pursued M.A in Economics from M.A.M College Jammu. In 2008, he cleared KAS examination after which he has taken the charge of Deputy Registrar in Cooperative Department, Leh.

Q. Brief us about the Cooperative Department.

Cooperative movement was started in India before Independence but in Ladakh, it was introduced during the 2nd Five-Year plan, however, it was only in the 4th five year’s plan the impact of the cooperative started. Today, the cooperative occupies a very important place in the economy of the district. The department provides essential commodities to the people through Baami Duniya Cooperative market and network of block-level consumer Cooperative societies. 

Cooperative society and department is a democratic institution that means the role of the department is to get the societies in different field registered. The cooperative society is formed by a group of people to enhance their socio-economic condition.

The consumer cooperative plays a key role in the past but with the open market facilities and competition, all kind of essential commodities are available in the market easily. Thus, the importance of consumer cooperative market is less as compared to the past.  But the department still plays a leading role in winter month by keeping stocks and making essential commodities available through various consumer cooperative block and district level.

There are two wings in our department, one is Supervisor and other is Audit wing. The dept. supervises the registered societies and audit the performance and accountability of the societies annually. 

Q. What are the role, functions and various schemes provided by the Department?

The role of the department is to get the cooperative societies registered, post registration supervision and audit etc. of the cooperative societies registered under the provisions of Cooperative Societies Act 1989.

The main roles of the cooperatives in the district are: 

•    To ensure availability of essential commodities through the network of district, block and village level consumer cooperative societies.
•    To ensure availability of chemical fertilizer to the farmers through cooperatives.
•    To promote the sale of local handicraft.
•    To procure, process and marketing of Seabuckthorn.
•    To generate income to local transporters.
•    To procure Dehair and marketing of local Pashmina.

If we talk about the scheme, till today there are no such particular schemes but we have been providing fertilizers for the farmers through various primary cooperative societies in different villages. Recently, with the effort of J&K Cooperative Minister, a new scheme called (ICDP) Integrated Cooperative Development Project under NCDC is going to be launched in Ladakh. The consultancy for the scheme has been appointed and the project DPRs is almost on the completion. The main aim of this scheme is to boost the cooperative societies by providing supports and help through various means such as the cooperative loan, subsidies etc.

Q. How important is it to form a cooperative society and what is its benefit? 

Cooperatives are established to meet the common economic, social and cultural needs and aspiration of the volunteers through a joint effort. A cooperative society is important because people can generate income from their production. Because of cooperative society farmers supply their produced vegetables and fruit to the army and generate income.

Baami Duniya cooperative is a society through which all essential commodities are made available at a fair price for the common public. The women cooperative society promotes their handloom products through the society. 

The best example of cooperative society is All Changthang Pashmina Growers. Earlier, the Pashmina growers used to sell Pashmina to the outsiders in a very less amount and also by the barter system. The actual price of the Pashmina was never obtained. With an establishment of cooperative society, middleman has completely ended and the growers of pashmina are getting the actual price of the Pashmina.

The cooperative organisation is based on the democratic principles. All plans, policies and programs of the society are decided by the majority of its members in the general meeting. Its activities are managed and controlled by the elected representatives of the members. All the members have equal rights to participate in the management of the society. They are based on the principle of equality and equal distribution of income. Thus, a cooperative society has democratic management.

Q. Tell us about the recent Cooperative Super Bazaar ‘Bami Duniya Consumer Cooperative Store’ and ‘Cooperative Chemist Shop’.

Super Bazaar is one of our most important project which aims to provide benefit to the masses by providing all kind of essential commodities at a fair price. Although there is Bami Duniya Consumer Cooperative at the district level it is small and not as per the change of market establishment in present days.

With an effort and support from the Chering Dorje, Minister for Cooperatives and Ladakh Affairs, Super Bazaar is opened in our cooperative market land or old SSB Complex, Leh. The Super Bazaar is first of its kind in the district in which all necessary products will be made available at a very reasonable price with quality.  There is also an availability of Cooperative Chemist Shop where people will get medicines at a very minimal rate as compared to the market.

In addition, every revenue villages there are consumer cooperative societies. There are 77 PACS Primary Agriculture Credit Cooperative Societies in the District engaged in the supply of Fertilizer and Consumer goods.

Today all these consumers cooperative run a small store of essential commodities. If this entire small consumer cooperative is made more functional at large under the ICDP scheme, the benefit can be reached out at the grassroots level and we are working on it.

Q. In winter season we don’t get green vegetable and get short of basic necessity goods.  How cooperative department ensures the supply of the goods and its distribution among the people equally?

Yes, in winter we play a good role in making the availability of green vegetables for the people. There is a quota for the Bami Duniya consumer cooperative department through which green vegetables are airlifted from Chandigarh and distributed among the people at a reasonable price.  

In addition, before the road gets closed down we keep the stock of fertilizers which is distributed among the farmer in March.  The stock for winter in terms of essential commodities is made to avoid shortages when the region gets cut off from the other parts of the country. 

The vegetables are distributed among the people on the first come basis and each person can get 3 kilos.

Q. Till now how many registered cooperative society is there in Leh district?

There are 91 registered societies in Leh district:

Type of Cooperative Societies

Primary Agri. Credit Societies

77 societies

Coop. Marketing Societies

6 Societies

Handicrafts 1 Societies

Milk Societies

1 Societies


Transport Coop. Societies
1 Societies

District Consumer Store

1 Societies

Others  4 Societies


91 Societies 

There are two acts in J&K Cooperative Department, through which the societies get registration, Cooperative Societies Act 1989, and Self Reliant Act 1999. Numbers of Cooperative societies have been registered in 1989 Act but now the new cooperative society cannot get registered under this act. They will be registered in Self Reliant Act 1999.  The main differences is that those cooperative which is registered under Cooperative Societies Act 1989 falls under govt. and all kind of audit and supervision is done by the govt. official of Cooperative Department. But the cooperative which is registered under Self Reliant Act 1999 is wholly run by the members of the society and no supervision is done by the department apart from the registration.

In Leh district, there are seven cooperative societies registered under Cooperative Societies Act 1989. They are Leh Marketing Cooperative societies, Karu Marketing Cooperative Society, Sham Nimmo Vegetables Grower Marketing society, Nubra Marketing Cooperative Society, Chorbat Marketing Cooperative Society, Ladakh Transport Copt Society and All Changthang Pashmina Grower.

Q. What are the various plans initiated to help the farmers in earning maximum from their production?

With an aim to boost the earning of the farmers, the administration has allotted 26 kanals of land to construct market facilities to the farmers. The land has not been vacated by CRPF till now, soon the land will be vacated and we are going to construct the market, especially for the farmers to sell their goods. 
In addition, we also help them to bring fertilizer to maximize their production. But from past few years, we are focusing to bring local manure (Rigpa) more by decreasing the use of fertilizer.

We have been stressing on organic farming but along with it the department also gets and distributes chemical fertilizers. 

Q. Tell us about the annual quantity of fertilizers demanded and supplied? In this scenario, is organic farming possible?

Fertilizer is a part of the green revolution in India and it is being distributed through cooperative department at a subsidized rate to increase the production. But unlike other parts of the country, the use of fertilizer in Ladakh is very negligible. Annually, we bring 6000 quintals of fertilizer.

With an aim of making Ladakh an organic farming region, we have decreased the quantity of fertilizer. We also thought for an alternative solution by replacing the fertilizer with local manure (Rigpa). We distributed local manure among the farmer which proved good, so we are going to replace it gradually in the coming years.

Q. Ladakh is growing very fast in the tourism sector and many are giving up the agriculture activities.  How much scope do we have in agriculture sector?

The tourism industry is not a sustainable source of income, though one can get easy money. Agriculture has been practiced by our ancestor and it is very important for the people to understand its value. It is not necessary to follow the old traditional way of farming. With the new technologies and development in the agriculture sector, different technique and method of farming can be adopted. The younger generation should take agriculture as a career after completing their studies. There are lots of differences in practicing farming after studies as many things can be explored and introduce.

From the cooperative point of view, agriculture and cooperative are correlated. Every farmer is directly or indirectly a member of Marketing Cooperative Society of different blocks. The aim of Cooperative Department is to boost the agriculture sector and by forming cooperative societies it helps the farmers to generate income from their production.

The younger generation should understand that along with tourism industry agriculture should be adopted as a part of livelihood because it is a sustainable source of income.

We also promote sea buckthorn production among the people through which they can produce berry juice and generate lots of income from it.

Q. How well aware are the people about the cooperative society? How is department helping in making them aware of it?

Cooperative societies are working well in Ladakh but there is a need to make people aware of the importance of cooperative society. People should take the benefit of working in a cooperative and making the societies functional.

Cooperative is very beneficial and this could be only known to the people who are related to this society and availing the benefit. But maximum people don’t know about it. Our department organises awareness camp about the importance of working in a cooperative society and provide training to the people.  The people who want to form a society can come to our office and get it registered. 

Q. What are the future plans and projects of the department in promoting the local products in the market? 

We have a plan to extend the super bazaar complex so that local farmers can sell their products. We do have some shop out there, as there are other residents staying temporarily, we are unable to carry out the construction. Once they will vacate the land, we are going to construct shops for the farmers and make the place a complete market complex with all kind of commodities in the same place at fair price. There is also a good parking facility. In the past, people neglected the area because it is out of the city. Now since the super Bazaar has been opened, more people are attracted and the shopkeepers are also taking interest to open their market.

Message to the readers

People should take interest in reviving the farming practice with new ideation and method, thus, promoting the sustainable source of income along with other sectors.