COVID-19 and Dairy Co-operatives
Just now I washed my hands with soap water and rubbed my mobile phone with sanitizer. And then I smiled to myself… What has happened to me? Is this an obsession? Obviously not, for now it’s a compulsion. I do wash my hand often but using sanitizer in my phone is the second time I suppose. It’s already more than 150 days that COVID-19 has become the part of our life. We were not prepared. None of the countries and communities was prepared for something so global. We had SARS and MERS in the past. We also had Swine flu and bird flu. We had the Ebola recently although the world was running on its own pace. There were no halts in the daily activities; mankind was moving on to make the better world. This time we have taken a break. Break from all outdoor activities. Learning, playing, working, everything has come to standstill. It is as if the earth has stopped its rotation. Lock in the house, away from friends and family.
The pandemic of COVID-19 has really struck the world, started from world’s most populous country china spread to mighty power America to the conqueror Great Britain to the birthplace of Gautama Buddha Nepal to the country of Pharaoh Egypt. Mine is a small country in South Asia. The land of Himalayas could not be untouched from this epidemic. The first case was reported on 24th January and after almost 2 months, there was the 2nd case. The politically unstable and bureaucratically corrupt country was never prepared. We even didn’t have the capacity to test the virus with PCR in the beginning. We were frowning when we had the second case and locked the country down. As the number reached 30, people were still confident that we will be safe. Now the number is near to 2500 and both the Government and the citizens are in the state of panic. We are doomed. But are we? No. The course of virus will take its natural path anyhow. The respiratory virus like COVID-19 is easy to transfer. The positive cases are only the tip of the iceberg, as the tests are limited. The lockdown is only for buying time to get prepared to tackle the mass infection. I don’t want to analyze if we are prepared. None of the countries were. I want to analyze, why the virus is not as fatal as that in Europe and America. Even the history shows, the people of Nepal were affected slightly during Spanish flu, Swine flu, bird flu, SARS, Ebola etc. Different hypothesis surfaced in the mean time. The use of BCG vaccine helps our immunity power from dust and pollution. I want to add few more.
- The corona virus is not new to us. There were many strains of the corona virus circulating in our air. We have developed immunity against those strains. Now the cross immunity might be adding a bit against this novel corona virus.
- Our food habit. We take turmeric powder, ginger and different types of spices which can have protective effect against microorganisms. Those herbs might be helping boost our immunity.
- The virus strain might have been weakening in our climate. Same applies for India and other South Asian countries. Our climate, food habit and disease pattern is same.
The number of infected will be increasing in the days to come as we do more tests and as more citizens come back from India and Middle East. The workload for the health workers and the security personnel will be increasing. There will be chaos in our borders. Even foreigners might want to sneak into Nepal thinking they will be safe here. Along with that, the COVID-19 is not going away soon. There would not be any miracle drug. The vaccine is still far away or there may never be a vaccine, as till date we don’t have vaccine against HIV after more than 30 years. Premature use of half tested vaccines can bring various problems in the body. Foreseeing this status are we supposed to be locked down till the virus disappears? No. We have to acknowledge the presence of virus around us and continue the livelihood. There may be time when every tenth person is infected in a community. We cannot hide from the virus forever. What we can do is live along with it as we are living with many other microorganisms. Only thing we can do is be more cautious. What we can do is make a habit of:-
- Physical/ Social distancing where and whenever possible.
- Using face mask in public (must if we have flu like symptoms).
- Try not touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Repeated and proper hand washing.
- Maintain personnel and social hygiene.
- Be patience and improve self confidence.
Humans invented agriculture during the Neolithic era or the New Stone Age for food to exist at that time to till date the first priority is to survive then development. With unhealthy body and empty stomach there is even don’t invented the word development. For the purpose of survival, people started to do agricultural activities, later it gives a big contributions to global economy. The movement of time and lifestyles for upgrading the production value, People detect to improve in sectors, the co-operative concept emerged. Cooperation is the universal instrument of creating economic miracles by living, thinking and working together to accomplish common goal through cooperative principles. Participation is bound to play a conclusive and successful job on the world economy. On that purpose the dairy cooperatives are established to increase member’s production and incomes by helping better link them with finance, agricultural inputs, information, and output markets. It enables peoples to improve product and service quality and reduce risks. The cooperative movements among farmers are viewed to be instrumental to agricultural and dairy transformation and boosting productivity in the sector. Cooperatives have been playing remarkable roles towards the growth and development of the national economy. Agriculture remains Nepal’s principal economic activity, employing about 65% of the population and providing 31.7% of GDP. As we all know, Nepal is agricultural country with a special focus on dairy sub-sector. Dairy farming is the second most important income-generating element which contributes 2/3rd to Agriculture Gross Domestic Product of the nation. Nepal is rich in biodiversity ranked 25th position in world and 11th position in Asia due to unique remarkable geographical diversity from 60 m to 8848 m and associated variation in climatic conditions. The country occupies about 0.1 percent of global area, 3.2 percent of harbors and 1.1 percent of the world’s known flora and fauna, respectively. The country’s biodiversity is also an important source of revenue. Due to climatic variance, varieties of agricultural activities and animal domestication are highly acceptable. Dairy farming taken as small farmers’ operation and Cooperatives enable farmers to realize their potential, build self- confidence, empowerment, and enrichment and live lives with full dignity. The concept of dairy co-operatives emerged to handle the collection, chilling and distribution of milk to milk-processing plants. It develop opportunities for income source, utilization of local resources, creating new rural job opportunities and helps to create awareness in health, sanitation, and education to the farmers, makes society organized, harmonized and helpful. It also helps to promote woman’s empowerment program in the society, to improve entire socio-economic condition of rural people. The total rural population of Nepal was reported at 80.26 % in 2018, according to the World Bank collection of development indicators. For the development of Nepal and its economy the main concentration must on the development of rural areas first.
A cooperative is “an independent association of women and men, united voluntarily to meet their common, social, cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.” A dairy cooperative is a “formal form of farmer collective action for the marketing and processing of dairy products and or for the purchase and production of dairy inputs.” Agricultural activities and animal domestication started from Neolithic period between 10,500 and 6,000 years ago for food. The dairy started with entry of cows in Nepal by Gopal Bansi probably 4000 years ago. In modern era, the first step in this direction was taken by Prime Minister of Nepal Jung Bahadur Rana in 1850 A.D. Later, the process of advance civilization it develops as an economic indicator. According to statistics from the Ministry of Livestock Development, 2016 there are 7.2 million head of cattle and 5.4 million head of buffalo in Nepal. 3,000 dairy farms and 424 buffalo farms were registered. Around half of the number of dairy farms are really small, have around five to ten animals per farm. Who do not have enough land, dairy sectors is the best alternative to them.
According to department of co-operatives report of 2074 there are 1658 dairy co-operatives in Nepal where 105893 peoples are directly involved as shareholders. This sector has enormous initiation to mobilize the resources in developmental works which gives big contributions to the sustainable development process. Development of agriculture including dairy sector is probably the most important to improve livelihoods which shows the concept of cooperative approach for gaining common goal. After placing huge initiation to the advantage of nation, farmers have complained these areas are kept in shadow and could not concern for upgrade. This sector placing huge initiation to the nation still farmers have complained these areas are kept in shadow and could not concern for upgrade. This covid-19 situation clearly demonstrate the position how the agricultural products with dairy products have not got the station of market as a result in losses worth more than Rs 2 billion for dairy sector. According to the Dairy Association, “Dairy products worth NPR 5 billion are still in stock and seem on the verge of deterioration”. Due to unaccessible transportation as well as evaporation of demand milk could not able to collect. Dairy products are being waste due to this lockdown and government inadequate projection of situation. Economy is struggling and facing the economic challenges. The economic downturn is expected to be worst, finance is hardest hit centre. For some year it is going negative recession and creates global financial crisis.
Cooperatives take as the great development factor of Nepal. Cooperatives are formed to meet peoples’ mutual needs for over 175 years now cooperatives have been an effective way for people to exert control over their economic livelihoods. Co-operatives can also play vital role to development. Co-operatives come in all shapes and sizes and all sectors of the economy to improve economic condition of its members and for this purpose it aims to provide facilities for better farming, better business and better living as well as carry out work of common economic interest and benefit to the members. Specialization may be in production, service provision, production or marketing or offer all or some combination of, support within the various stages. Collective action is the core resource of agricultural dairy cooperatives. Cooperatives create social relations that enable individuals to achieve goals that they may not otherwise be able to achieve by themselves. For example, cooperatives can help farmers benefit from economies of scale to lower their costs of acquiring inputs or hiring services such as storage and transport. Dairy cooperatives also enable farmers to improve product and service quality and reduce risks. They may also empower their members economically and socially by involving them in decision-making processes that create additional rural employment opportunities or enable them to become more resilient to economic and environmental shocks.
Experts already predict Covid-19 is not going away soon so adding lockdown is not the alternative. Like other countries, Nepal also has to take protection and safety actions towards the problems and have to made habit of adaptation and continue our daily activities as well as operate concerned performance towards assign sectors. It helps to preserve and eradicate the massive. We have to make habit with corona virus embracing to run our dairy activities as well as daily activities.
(Writer is The Manager of Bimaleshwor agriculture co-operative Ltd.)