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A 'co-operative' is a member-controlled association of individual farmers, households, etc., who share the risks and profits of a jointly owned economic enterprise. A co-operative is usually established in response to unfavourable market conditions, shared by all participating members, in order to gain leverage due to the combined size, capacity and capability of the whole group.

The co-operative movement in India owes its origin to the agriculture and allied sectors. During the early years of the 20th century, in the wake of famines, which had resulted in economic hardship and an alarming increase in the indebtedness of the farmers, co-operatives appeared to be the best means of getting the farmers out of the vicious circle of debts and poverty. Farmers found the co-operative movement an attractive mechanism for pooling their meagre resources for solving common problems relating to credit, supplies of inputs and marketing of agricultural produce.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 11-03-2011