Past Project

Cooperative Development Program (CDP)

Increasing Smallholder Producers’ Linkages to LOCAL, REGIONAL AND GLOBAL Market Chains

ACDI/VOCA’s cooperative roots reach back to 1963 when U.S. farmer co-ops and farm credit banks founded the organization to assist cooperatives in developing countries. Today, a cooperative approach to economic development, as manifested in the Cooperative Development Program (CDP), is as valid as ever.

In 2004 the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded ACDI/VOCA a six-year, $4.6 million grant under the CDP to develop cooperative programs in Brazil, Paraguay and Russia as well as the Resources for Cooperative and Association Excellence in International Development website. For information on ACDI/VOCA’s current (2010-2015) CDP program.


ACDI/VOCA has a long history in Brazil. Between 1973 and 1985, ACDI/VOCA carried out 30 volunteer assignments, which led to the development of other ACDI/VOCA projects. The 2004-2010 CDP in Brazil built on global Farmer-to-Farmer Program activities conducted between 1994 and 1996, when 33 volunteer assignments were carried out. These assignments helped secure our partnership with the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives (OCB), which supported ACDI/VOCA’s work by covering the rental costs of our office in Brasilia.

Since the inception of ACDI/VOCA’s Brazil programs, more than 125 ACDI/VOCA volunteers and consultants have offered guidance in nearly every field of agricultural production as well as numerous consultations in marketing, strategic planning, management and cooperative development.


Paraguay’s land and income distributions are among the most lopsided in Latin America (World Bank). Moreover, agriculture is an important part of the economy in Paraguay, accounting for 25 percent of the gross national product (GNP), 40 percent of employment and 50 percent of the registered exports. Investments in agricultural production and markets are crucial to reducing poverty in the country.

In 2002 ACDI/VOCA’s CDP expanded to include Paraguay in a two-year initiative to enhance agricultural cooperative and producer association development in Central Cooperativa Nacional (Credicoop) and the departments of Caaguazú, Concepción and San Pedro. ACDI/VOCA worked with institutions to improve governance, management and financial systems, emphasizing market-driven member services as well. By providing training, strategic planning and marketing, co-ops and associations were able to pass on the benefits of the program to a large number of smallholder farmers and small-scale entrepreneurs.


Partnering with the Rural Credit Cooperative Development Fund (RCCDF), ACDI/VOCA managed a Russian-American lending program to support enhanced access to financial resources and institutions for private farmers. Under ACDI/VOCA’s previous Mobilizing Agricultural Credit (MAC) Program, ACDI/VOCA also established a fund for financing agricultural credit cooperatives which, since 1998, has increased the number of rural credit cooperatives (RCCs) 40 times over and membership by 162 times.

CDP Russia also helped to encourage favorable legislation for agricultural cooperatives and to strengthen a three-tier network of cooperative financial institutions, including a national credit cooperative and regional credit cooperatives. In particular, CDP focused on achieving a greater scale of financial assistance and capacity building for organizations like the Training and Advisory Center, Union of Rural Credit Cooperatives and Special Union of Rural Credit Cooperative Auditors (Special Auditors’ Union), which was reorganized into a self-regulatory organization that included 40-plus regional special audit unions for more than 1,000 rural credit cooperatives.

Together, these efforts helped secure the future of cooperatives in Russia. As of 2007, more than 136,000 members were active in 1,698 RCCs because of the MAC, CDP and Russian Government National programs.

Resources for Cooperative and Association Excellence in International Development

ACDI/VOCA developed the Resources for Cooperative and Association Excellence in International Development website, with funding from USAID’s CDP, to highlight cooperative development achievements and demonstrate how cooperative development is integral to international economic, democratic and social development. As a repository of international cooperative development materials, the website is the first of its kind for ACDI/VOCA. It is accessible across the globe and facilitates the sharing of methodologies, best practices and lessons learned in cooperative development. Through its resource library, case studies and videos, the website provides information from basic definitions of “cooperatives” and “producer associations” to commentaries on cooperatives’ role in addressing today’s development issues.