Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) play a crucial role in rural and agricultural development as village-level cooperative credit societies.
These societies are part of a three-tier cooperative credit structure, with State Cooperative Banks (SCBs) at the state level and District Co-operative Central Banks (DCCBs) at the district level.
PACS primarily engage in short-term lending, providing crop loans to farmers at the beginning of the cropping cycle, covering expenses for seeds, fertilizers, etc.
The interest on these crop loans is set at 7%, but the Central and State governments subsidize 3% and 2%, respectively, making the effective interest rate for farmers only 2%.
As cooperative bodies, PACS have individual farmers as members, and office-bearers are elected from among them, allowing multiple PACS to operate in a single village.
PACS provide the crucial last mile connectivity, ensuring timely access to capital for farmers at the beginning of their agricultural activities.
The streamlined structure of PACS enables them to extend credit with minimal paperwork, offering fast and efficient services.
Additionally, PACS have the potential to be utilized as “drone entrepreneurs” for spraying fertilizers and pesticides, promoting the adoption of modern agricultural practices.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Ministry of Cooperation, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, NABARD, and CSC e-Governance Services India Limited enables PACS to provide services offered by Common Service Centres (CSC).
The expansion and strengthening of PACS will boost employment opportunities in rural areas, contributing to the overall development of the agricultural sector.
The allocation of Rs. 2,516 crore in the Union Budget for computerization of 63,000 Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) over the next five years will enhance transparency, accountability, and operational efficiency.
This move will empower PACS to diversify their services and undertake more activities, benefiting both cooperatives and farmers alike, resulting in a win-win situation for all stakeholders in the rural and agricultural development landscape.