Nepalese co-operators marked an important moment in the history of the movement as they met in Kathmandu for the country’s first even National Co-operative Congress. The event, which took place on 25-27 March, was a joint initiative of the National Co-operative Federation of Nepal, the National Co-operative Development Board and the Department of Co-operatives of the Ministry of Co-operatives and Poverty Alleviation.
The Congress, themed “Sustainable Economic Development and Social Justice through Co-operatives”, began with a huge rally in the National Stadium followed by keynote speeches from the President of Nepal, Ram Baran Yadav; Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and President of the International Co-operative Alliance, Dame Pauline Green.
The Congress resulted in the adoption of the Kathmandu Declaration, which highlights the importance of co-operative enterprises to the country’s economic development.
The Declaration suggests amending the current Co-operative Act, to provide a friendlier legislative environment for co-operatives. It also touches upon the importance of education and sharing of best practices.
Another important issue of the movement’s agenda is increasing the participation of women, young people and disadvantages groups by promoting equality through co-operatives. The Declaration also mentions the importance of creating a separate mechanism for the effective regulation and monitoring of co-operatives.
The Department of Co-operatives is working under the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives to enhance local entrepreneurship through co-operative enterprises. The sector hopes to make a double contribution to Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP), up to 6% within the coming five years.
Referring to the Congress, Dame Pauline Green, praised the Nepal Co-operative Federation for organising the event.
She said: “Nepal's co-operative movement is enjoying a resurgence and agricultural co-ops are multiplying across the country, doing much to help lower the number of those living below the poverty line. As ever, the challenge now is to help farmers to move on to the development of co-operatively owned value chain, so that their communities can benefit from the additional prosperity that will bring.
“This 800 strong Congress was as lively, passionate and bursting with committed co-operators as I've seen anywhere in the world.”
Photo: In celebration of the International Year of Co-operatives in 2012 ten members from the Nepal Information and Communication Central Co-operative Union (NICCU) took the IYC logo and the flag of the International Co-operative Alliance to the top of the world.