Consumer cooperative societies are of a recent origin in this country. Indian economy being predominantly agricultural, its production is dependent on the vagaries of the monsoon and very often there is partial failure of crops in one or more regions. Again, in the event of such shortfalls in domestic production, the wholesalers and retailers often create artificial shortages. Apart from that, the tendency of private trade to increase profit margin is more pronounced in such situations. The government, therefore has promoted consumer cooperatives as an alternative channel of distribution to exercise a healthy influence on individual distributors. Although consumer cooperatives were organized even earlier, they increased in number rapidly during the Second World War and during the immediate post war years owing to the encouragement from the government.
With the advent of modem market economy the position has radically changed and growing number of market functionaries have interposed themselves, adding to the margins at various stages. The result is that, now there is often a considerable price-spread between the producer and the consumer. Cooperatives of producers on the one hand and the consumers on the other, offer one of the practical means of reducing this price-spread; Of the various measures taken by the Government to hold the price line, the development of the consumer cooperatives has by far attracted the greatest attention.
Meaning and Objectives
A consumer co-operative is a voluntary organisation of consumers, organised to obtain their requirements of consumer goods and services on terms of greatest advantage to them. This type of cooperative undertakes retailing, wholesale trading, and sometimes the production and processing of consumer goods. Most of the consumer stores have been established on the principles enunciated by the Rochdale pioneers. These principles are open membership, democratic control, cash trading on a market prices, fixed on capital and dividend on purchases.
The main objective of a consumer store is to serve its members and customers with goods required by them for household consumption. It is expected to provide goods at a reason- able price and to protect the interest of the members. These stores are also expected to stabilize the price line and check: the exploitation of the consumers by the private businessmen.
National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF)
The National Cooperative Consumers’ Federation of India Limited (NCCF) is the apex Federation of the consumer cooperatives in the country. NCCF was set up on 16 October, 1965 and is administered under the Multi State Cooperative Societies Act 2002. The present membership of the NCCF is 136 comprising of Primary Co-op. Stores, Wholesale Societies, State level Consumer Cooperative Federations, National Cooperative Development Corporation and the Government of India.
The commercial operations of the NCCF are handled through its headquarters at New Delhi and 34 branches/ sub-branches located in the State Capitals and other important procuring centers in different parts of the country. NCCF also run a dal processing unit at Bhiwani . It also runs two retail counters at Dak Tar Bhawan, Parliament Street, New Delhi and at Nehru Palce, New Delhi.
The main objectives of the NCCF are to provide supply support to the consumer cooperatives and other distributing agencies for distribution of consumer goods at reasonable and affordable rates besides rendering technical guidance and assistance to the consumer cooperatives through its R & D division. NCCF is the spokesman of the consumer cooperative movement in the country.
Commercial Activities of NCCF
NCCF basically provides linkage between the producers/ manufacturers and the wholesalers/retailers and the consumers. It is primarily engaged in wholesale distributive trade. NCCF is involved in procurement and marketing of various consumer goods such as pulses of different varieties, food grains, textiles, tea and other manufactured items in bulk. It has also made arrangement for supply of items like different varieties of pulses, iodised salt, tea in consumer packs, toilet soap, detergent powder etc. all over the country. NCCF has also set up its retail outlets at Nehru Place, Dak Bhawan Annex, Parliament Street, New Delhi to cater to the needs of local people. As an administrative policy, NCCF retains very low margin just to cover its establishment and administrative expenses so as to ensure availability of essential consumer goods to the State distributing agencies as also to the consumer's at most competitive prices. Due care is also taken in quality of the goods and their regular availability.
Procurement Procedures of the NCCF
The items like Toor Whole, Gram, Masoor, Jeera, Saunf, Methi, Mustard etc. are procured from the procuring centers from the regulated mandis during the Kharif/Rabi seasons and stored in CWC/ State Warehouses. These stocks are offered to Co-operatives/ indenting institutions during lean season in order to maintain the supply line and sustain the escalation of the rates in market for benefit of consumers. The processed pulses are procured by inviting quotations from the millers and the suppliers as per the mailing lists available with the Head Office and branches of the NCCF as per requirement of the indenting institutions from time to time. NCCF normally does not maintain any buffer stock of these commodities except for the requirement of raw materials at its Nagpur and Bhiwani processing units.
The millers and suppliers, desirous of entering into supply arrangement with the NCCF, may write to the concerned branch of the NCCF for registration of their names in the approved list stating full details of the firm including their sales tax numbers and food grain dealing license number. NCCF is also engaged in procurement of paddy under minimum support price from the farmers through regulated Mandis in few states during the season and arranging delivery of custom milling rice in central pool as per the policy framed by the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution (Department of Food & Public Distribution).
The major items of the General Merchandise are the following:-
The Government of India nominated the NCCF as an approved agency w.e.f. 11.04.1994 for supply of stationery and other office use articles to all Ministries, Central Govt. .Deptts. and their attached and subordinate offices and other organisations financed and/or controlled by the Central Govt. in the country.
The branches of NCCF have rate contracts with the manufacturers/ distributors and dealers for most of the branded items of stationery and office use articles including computers, furniture and fixtures etc. for supply of the same to the Government Departments all over the country as per their requirement. Thrust is on supply of quality goods at the most competitive prices. Due care is also taken for prompt delivery and after sale services. NCCF maintains price list of major items supplied to the Central Govt. offices. The items of Iodised Salt is marketed by the NCCF in its own brand name of "Sarvpriya" in consumer packs. NCCF has made arrangement with manufacturers of these goods after inviting quotations for packing and supply of the goods in NCCF's brand name at the cost structure approved by the NCCF.The other manufactured consumer goods are purchased either from the manufacturers or distributors of such items at the current wholesale rates.
The textile items such as cotton cloth, carpets, bedlinens, towels, uniform cloth etc. are purchased from the mills and their distributors by entering into specific agreements with them for supply in bulk to user cooperatives and Government organisations.
The Levy Sugar is procured and distributed in three districts of Delhi as per the approved scheme of the Government of NCT Delhi.
The NCCF was appointed as nodal agency for lifting and distribution of confiscated goods in the year 1968 by the Government of India. The confiscated goods being lifted from various customs and excise points are distributed through the consumer cooperatives in the country.
NCCF has been nominated as one of the agency for undertaking distribution of fertilizer products of IFFCO for the benefit of the farmer community.