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The Belt and Road Seminar on Rural Cooperative Finance was held from June 23 to 25 at the Zhejian Economic and Trade Polytechnic in Hangzhou, China. The seminar was attended by 35 participants from 14 countries. The focus of the workshop was on Rural Co-operatives Financial Services. These days, in many countries in the region, the attention is centered on farmers, specifically, the distress of farmers. This is a result of, among other things, falling prices, difficulty in repaying loans, availability of credit (and insurance), limited access to productive resources, and a weakening of membership groups (that could provide moral and other forms of support). The objective of the workshop was to address the importance of finance to ensure financial well-being to help farmers cope with shocks (natural or otherwise); bring the dual benefit or co-operatives and financial services to those who most need it; and ensure financial services provided to members - be it for input, storage, marketing, asset creation - is well utilized and productively used.


The Belt and Road is an ambitious initiative by China that seeks to promote a regional economic cooperation spanning four continents and covering of 66 countries. The Belt and Road initiative has components that are more than physical connections; it has economic (policy, trade and financing) collaboration, social interaction and cultural cooperation. It aims to generate mutual benefits, including environmental management and closer cultural exchanges. There is active promotion of E-Commerce and strengthening trade. Speaking at the opening, Ms. Wang Xia, President of All China Federation of Supply & Marketing Coops  (ACFSMC), provided an overview of the Belt and Road Initiative and spoke about its importance to the Chinese governments foreign and trade policy. “The Belt and Road policy framework provides impetus for deepening trade in the region, building new bridges of mutual understanding, and funding to enable development.”


Regional Director, Mr. Balu Iyer, speaking at the seminar.


Mr. Balu Iyer in his opening remarks stressed, “the underlying basis for success will be the soft aspects - building human networks, enhancing capacity, and developing linkages. The cooperative model has immense relevance and OBOR provides the opportunity to enhance our work.”