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Govt to Convert 2000 Agricultural Societies into Affordable Pharmacies

The initiative to convert PACS into Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras showcases the government's commitment to improving healthcare accessibility, promoting entrepreneurship, and boosting the cooperative sector.

Shivam Dwivedi
Govt to Convert 2000 Agricultural Societies into Affordable Pharmacies (Photo Source: Pixabay)
Govt to Convert 2000 Agricultural Societies into Affordable Pharmacies (Photo Source: Pixabay)

The Union government has announced plans to transform 2,000 primary agricultural credit societies (PACS) into Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras. These kendras will serve as low-cost pharmacies, providing unbranded medicines and contributing to the enhancement of last-mile healthcare delivery across the country.

According to an unnamed government official, 1,000 of these centers are expected to become operational by August, with the remaining 1,000 set to open by December this year. The initiative is a result of collaboration between the home minister, Amit Shah, and the health minister, Mansukh Mandaviya, with the goal of diversifying the services offered by PACS.

PACS are crucial financial institutions that cater to the needs of millions of farmers in rural areas. As part of the ongoing efforts to modernize and digitize these societies, the cooperation ministry, which is also led by Minister Shah, is actively working on facilitating their transition into digital platforms. This digitization process will enable farmers to explore additional business opportunities and expand their entrepreneurial activities.

The Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana was initiated in November 2008 by the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, under the leadership of Minister Mandaviya. The primary objective of this program is to make quality generic medicines accessible to the public at affordable prices.

These Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendras provide generic drugs at significantly lower costs, with prices ranging from 50% to 90% cheaper than branded alternatives. The government has also introduced comprehensive reforms to revitalize the cooperative sector. Central to this overhaul is the digital transformation of PACS. India boasts nearly 800,000 cooperatives, encompassing a vast membership base of approximately 290 million individuals.

These cooperatives include banks, sugar mills, and prominent businesses like IFFCO (a fertilizer manufacturer) and Amul (a renowned milk brand). Cooperatives function as collective entities jointly owned by participating members who share both profits and losses.

To qualify as a dispensing center under the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Jan Aushadhi Kendra scheme, a primary cooperative society must have a minimum space of 120 sq. ft., either owned privately or rented. The application fee for establishing a Jan Aushadhi Kendra is set at Rs 5,000.

Priority consideration is given to women entrepreneurs, differently-abled citizens, scheduled castes, and tribes under the special category. All application fees are waived off for applicants falling within the special category, as confirmed by the government official.

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