Cooperative Development Program (CDP)


ACDI/VOCA’s cooperative roots reach back to 1963, when U.S. farmer cooperatives (co-ops) and farm credit banks founded the organization to assist co-ops in emerging economies. ACDI/VOCA evolved as an organization but continues to support cooperative development in part through the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Cooperative Development Program (CDP). The CDP provides technical assistance and capacity building to help professionally managed, farmer-owned and -operated organizations improve their governance, management, and productivity.

Explore our history with the CDP below:

ACDI/VOCA began developing cooperative programs under the most recent CDP in the Philippines and Guinea in 2021.

The current CDP in the Philippines and Guinea applies ACDI/VOCA’s Inclusive Market Systems approach, developed for USAID, to build the capacity of co-ops and their members and to support sustainable relationships between producers, service providers, and buyers. This is helping establish long-term market relationships and incentives that will sustain co-ops and their members into the future. In both the Philippines and Guinea, the CDP is using learnings to increase communications between partnering businesses.


In Guinea, the CDP is building the capacity of producer groups to improve their cashew quality and volumes, strengthen their links to economic markets, and create clear market incentives, which was, in part, done in coordination with the now-concluded Siguiri Agriculture Development Activity, funded by USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA in Guinea.

The Philippines

In the Philippines, the CDP is working to strengthen AgriCooPh, a prominent federation of co-ops in the Philippines, to provide much-needed member services and improve governance and financial management of co-ops and other agribusinesses in Mindanao and Luzon.

From 2010 to 2018, ACDI/VOCA developed cooperative programs under the CDP in Liberia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Paraguay.

Following our successful first six years of implementing the CDP from 2004 to 2010, USAID awarded ACDI/VOCA with an eight-year follow-on. The renewed program took place in Paraguay and East Africa, with its final two years only taking place in Ethiopia and Liberia. Over these eight years, the CDP provided 46 agricultural co-ops and five unions with technical assistance and training in leadership, group dynamics, and Farming as a Family Business. This led to improvements in recordkeeping, strategic and financial planning, and quality control in Paraguay, Ethiopia, and Kenya, where the program also helped local entities establish seven Cooperative Learning Information Centers.

From 2004 to 2010, ACDI/VOCA developed cooperative programs under the CDP in Brazil, Paraguay, and Russia.


The 2004 to 2010 CDP built upon the USAID Farmer-to-Farmer Program activities conducted in Brazil by ACDI/VOCA between 1994 and 1996, when 33 volunteer assignments were carried out. These assignments helped secure our partnership with the Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives, 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.


In 2002, the CDP expanded to include Paraguay in a two-year initiative to enhance agricultural co-op 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. By providing training, strategic planning, and marketing, co-ops and associations were able to pass on the benefits of the program to many 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. The CDP also helped encourage favorable legislation for agricultural co-ops and to strengthen a three-tier network of cooperative financial institutions, including a national credit co-op and regional credit co-ops. In particular, the 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 regional special audit unions for more than 1,000 rural credit co-ops. Together, these efforts helped secure the future of co-ops in Russia. As of 2007, more than 136,000 members were active in 1,698 rural credit co-ops because of the CDP and Russian government programs.

During this time, ACDI/VOCA developed the Resources for Cooperative and Association Excellence in International Development website.

ACDI/VOCA developed this website with funding from the CDP to highlight what co-op development has achieved and why it is integral to economic, democratic, and social development. As a repository of global cooperative development materials, the website was the first of its kind for ACDI/VOCA. Through its resource library, case studies, and videos, the website facilitated the sharing of methodologies, best practices, and lessons learned in cooperative development. It provided information from basic definitions of “cooperatives” and “producer associations” to commentaries on the role of co-ops in addressing today’s development issues.