A high level Asia Pacific Cooperative executive committee session opened in Colombo on 12 December-with significant emphasis on engagement of youth for cooperatives. “I am pleased to represent the government of Sri Lanka this morning at the launch of Annual Executive Committee Meeting of Network for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC). This is the second NEDAC/EXCOM meeting to be held in Sri Lanka since 2014. Sri Lanka is honored by NEDAC’s decision to hold it in Colombo for the second time” said the State Minister of international Cooperation Susil Premajayntha on 12 December. Addressing the launch event of NEDAC executive committee meeting at Galadari Colombo Minister Premajayantha added: “HE President Gotabaya Rajapakse is focused on fulfilling many responsibilities for future generations, hone their skills and empower them. Given a considerable number of the cooperative members are youth, this is a very important development for our cooperative sector” he said. Network for the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC) is headquartered in Bangkok and is the unique regional forum linking 21 apex cooperative organizations from 12 countries. Its beginning was truly multilateral-NEDAC is a result of collaboration of three giants in 1991- the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Joining the 12 December Colombo event were India Pondichery Minister of Social Welfare, Co-Operatives, And Consumer Affairs M. Kandasamy, Chairman of NEDAC Sundeep Kumar Nayak, Chairman Sri Lanka’s COOPYES & Vice-Chairman NEDAC M.S.M. Riyas, Chairma -National Cooperatives Commission Lalith Peris and Commissioner of Sri Lanka Co-Operative Development & Registrar Of Co-Operative Societies Suvinda S.Singapuli. Cooperative representatives from India, Thailand, Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Kenya were present for the two-day Colombo sessions.
“The membership in our cooperative system has around 8 million Sri Lankans” said Vice-Chairman NEDAC M.S.M. Riyas and added: “Therefore when we talk of cooperatives, we are talking of a very large economic sector membership in Sri Lanka. There is a strong youth and women membership within this 8 million. COOPYES was founded to uplift the youth in the process. We expect COOPYES to play a key role in enlisting youth to our Cooperatives in future. Even though NEDAC began for agricultural cooperatives, today it expanded to include cooperatives in many other sectors too” Chairman of NEDAC Sundeep Kumar Nayak said that the latest Colombo sessions are aimed at sharing of cooperative experiences. “Also to review the progress, and to prepare workplans for 2020.”
Only two organizations from Sri Lanka are members of NEDAC – the Department of Cooperative Development and ‘COOPYES’ - the Co-operative Youth Empowerment Society.