Social Capital: The Most Valuable Property of Rural and Agricultural Cooperatives Network
by: H. Shirzad[i]
Over half a
century, the rural cooperative network has been the most significant ground for
creating social capital in rural areas. The foundations of social capital, comprising
confidence, partnership, integrity, communication, networking, has created a protection
mechanism for public interests. These foundations have been boosting economic
productivity by coordinating the market relation of rural areas. Unfortunately,
the social capital of the rural cooperative network has been severely
undermined due to the underdevelopment of managing structure. Administrative
corruption of the credit funds along with improper tolerance of financial
discrimination has resulted in undermining confidence and commitment as the
vital elements. Therefore, the formal and informal communication network of
rural communities needs to horizontal and vertical transformation.
In fact, the socioeconomic norms of rural communities which reduce the
communication and exchange costs through boosting cooperation among the members
of the rural community; are going to be weakened by legal structures.
Unfair distribution of power associating with improper interventions of the
state bodies have led to disrupting the free transactions of the rural markets,
in a way that; even the traditional bodies are not able to coordinate and
systematize the members of the rural communities yet.
In other words, the farmers' benefits due to the membership in the rural
cooperatives, based on the current legal structure, are not beneficial and
attractive enough for them.
This means that during the last half a century, the social capital of the rural
communities damaged. This challenge along with the descending trend of capital
injection, depreciation of the infrastructural facilities, repeating droughts,
youth migration from rural areas have exacerbated the problem.
We should renovate our gaining by accurate planning and adopting new approaches
to bring the rural cooperative network to its previous stance in order to make
it a trusted foundation for recreation of social confidence and capacity
building of the rural communities. We should believe that by the reproduction
of the social capital, we would manage to empower the farmers for capacity
building, accepting diversification and sustainable enjoying. Therefore the
confidence, security, occupational ties, neighborhood, membership in the rural
cooperatives and other guild systems would be reinforced as a response of a
genuine rural community.
[i] Agriculture-Jahad Deputy Minister and
CEO of Central Organization for Rural Cooperatives of Iran (CORC)