D N Thakur is the Deputy Managing Director of national cooperative lender NCDC. But that is hardly his introduction. Thakur is regarded as a strong -willed votary of co-op and organic farming and he proves this by leading an example from his village.
A practical man to the core, he says it is not money alone that can change the lives of farmers; he gives example of total agri budget mandated for farmers since 1947 and says had it been so things would have changed. He talks of hand-holding farmers and taking them to the path of growth and prosperity.
To being with, Thakur experimented his idea in his own village-Ladari which is 15 kilometer away from Darbhanga town in north Bihar. He convinced his co-villagers to pool their land together in an informal manner-something like co-operative but without having its formal structure. He urged those living in the village post- retirement to volunteer and oversee the farming for 1000 acres of the pooled land.
“It became easy as from hiring equipment to selling it in the market went into the hands of an educated group that cannot be browbeaten or swindled. Those living in the village are freed of drudgery and can focus on other ways of getting income”, said Thakur expounding on the novel concept.
Villagers with smaller land holdings who have contributed to the pooled land can also work on the pooled plot, earning daily wages while those like us staying in Delhi or Mumbai can rest assured that they would get their return in due course, said Thakur who is known for his wise agri counsel in the cooperative circles in Delhi.
“We are planning to have godowns and cold storage so that we could hold onto the produce to fetch remunerative prices when the time comes; we are also better placed to talk to local officers such as BDO or PACS officials which an individual farmer cannot do,” said Thakur.
“To tell you the truth I wish to have such model being replicated at panchayat level so that farmers have a voice and instead of being dictated they dictate the terms-be they govt officials or market managers,’ underlined Thakur. “It is the scale that matters”, he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
An original thinker Thakur has teamed up with the NCDC team along with its MD to redefine the philosophy of the cooperative lender. Known for its stringent lending norms NCDC has diluted its terms of offering loan in recent years and has practically hand-held those co-operatives who show promise.
“Why should anyone take loan from us, asks Thakur; it is the quality of service and positive attitude that goad co-ops to approach us”, he answers himself unravelling the rise of NCDC in recent years from Rs 4000 crore in 2015 to Rs 24000 crore in 2018.
NCDC’s rate of interest is no less compared to other commercial lenders but its wholistic approach to handhold its customers make the difference, said Thakur. Indian Cooperative has learnt that Union Minister Radha Mohan Singh has also lent a helping hand and stood by NCDC when it decided to dilute its lending terms. “We go by the work a co-op does and this insight explains why the recovery rate of NCDC is more than 99 per cent”, explained Thakur unveiling the spirit of a changed NCDC.