Cooperative Governance: Opportunities to Enhance Rural Livelihoods in India
Rural populations in India continually face great challenges when it comes to earning and maintaining a sustainable living. With up to 70% of rural Indians working in the agricultural sector, those challenges will only become more substantial as climate change creates greater impacts and economic uncertainty causes further distress. Solving these problems will require innovative solutions from a number of areas.
Previous attempts at improving farmers’ livelihoods have generally focused on a singular aspect within the food-water-energy nexus instead of focusing on all aspects as one larger issue. Poor access to agricultural markets, water shortages, and unreliable power are all connected. The problem is not related to the energy sector alone, but is multi-dimensional.
For instance, farmer-owned and operated cooperatives that serve rural India specifically could become the problem-solving institutions that improve access to agricultural markets, create efficient water supply usage, and develop electricity reliability. Prior success in similar organizations in India and internationally suggest these collectives are possible, especially with support from local and central governments to make these efforts viable and sustainable.