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The Department of Cooperatives, Government of Kerala, India organized the Cooperative Expo-2022 from 18-25 April. The Expo was inaugurated by Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan, Chief Minister of Kerala,  who lauded the contributions of the cooperative sector in the state while acknowledging that it is still growing and how a common man in Kerala can see the presence of cooperatives in every walk of life.


The expo had a mix of seminars, lecture sessions, business meets, etc. The evenings at the venue at Marine Drive, Kochi also featured cultural events ranging from percussion ensembles to concerts which saw good participation from the public.


The seven-day expo, through exhibition-cum-sale stalls, showcased products, services and diverse activities involving cooperatives from Kerala. There were around 210 stalls organized in a pavilion spanning 60,000 sq ft. including some of the large, popular cooperative organisations in Kerala such as Kerafed, Consumerfed, Rubco, Milma, Matsyafed, Coirfed, Kerala Bank etc.


The expo aimed to exhibit the value-added products manufactured by cooperatives and promotion of activities in the cooperative sector. It featured a grand lineup of stalls with diverse products – organic produce, food grains (‘pokkali’ rice without bran-featured by Palliyakal Service Cooperative Bank), turmeric (Amballur Service Cooperative Bank), ayurvedic products (Keralasree Ayurvedics promoted by Thadukassery Service Coop bank), refined jaggery (Marayoor Service Cooperative Bank Ltd), traditional cooperative banks turning into smart banks by introducing the fintech services (Omassery Service Cooperative Bank), and even renewable solar energy installations (Renewable Energy Promotion Industrial Co-operative Society-REPCOS) etc.


It was interesting to note that several cooperative banks and Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS) have expanded into agricultural production and were selling their produce. These cooperatives have directly ventured into agricultural extension activities and are training groups of agricultural producers and supporting them at various stages of production through credit, technical assistance, mass procurement and marketing.


A stall by the Department of Cooperatives, Kerala outlined the cooperative sector in the state, the history of the cooperative movement worldwide, the Rochdale pioneers, the International Cooperative Alliance and the seven principles of cooperation etc. The Uralungal Labor Contract Co-operative Society (ULCCS), an ICA member organization from Kerala, India and one of India's oldest worker cooperatives also set up a stall showcasing its rich legacy in cooperation, its interventions in the arts and craft sector through ULCSS’ initiative, Sargaalaya. 


The expo was a good opportunity to get an overview of the diverse sectors and how cooperatives are making an impact in the daily lives of the average Keralite. Dr. Adeela Abdulla, Registrar of Cooperative Societies (RCS), Kerala mentioned that almost every stall at the expo had made profits.




The Expo also saw the presence of several youth development cooperatives, labour contract cooperative societies, cooperatives involved in the field of construction, government and quasi-government organisations involved in the field of cooperative development.




Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP was the Chief Guest at the closing ceremony on 25 April. Mr. Iyer praised the 16,000 cooperatives operating under the aegis of RCS and more under functional registrars that are cutting across most of the sectors in Kerala continue to be the strength of the movement in the State. He hoped that cooperatives can also be formed in newer areas and domains including the services sector, platform cooperatives, technology etc.


Mr. Iyer applauded the conduct of the expo as an avenue for cooperatives to exchange ideas, encourage youth to be more aware of the cooperative movement, market quality products etc. He noted that cooperatives as business enterprises operating in a globalized and changing world need to compete in the market and exhorted the need for cooperatives to maintain good quality while venturing into newer domains. The ceremony concluded with an evaluation of the Coop Expo by selected participants from the cooperative sector. 



On the sidelines of the Cooperative Expo, Mr. Iyer and Mr. Ganesh Gopal, Lead-Entrepreneurship Development, ICA-AP met with Mr. V.N. Vasavan, Minister for Cooperation, Government of Kerala and Dr. Adeela Abdulla, RCS, Kerala. 


The Cooperative Expo 2022 opened a unique platform to the cooperatives of Kerala for exhibiting, trading, branding, awareness and marketing of their activities, products, and services. Future iterations of such Cooperative Expos will be beneficial in giving a much necessary impetus to the sector, generating renewed interest among the people of Kerala and even encouraging more youth participation in the cooperative sector.