Ethiopian Coffee Development Program

Increasing Smallholder Incomes from Coffee

The practice of cooperation to solve mutual problems through organized and coordinated efforts has a long history in Ethiopia. Ethiopian forefathers were well aware of the value of working together, which is expressed by the popular Ethiopian saying “dir biaber anbessa yaser,” translated “when fibers come together they can chain a lion.” Today, there are 71,000 primary cooperatives representing more than 13.3 million individual members. These primary cooperatives are organized in 353 unions (Federal Cooperative Agency).

The Ethiopia Cooperative Development Program (CDP), part of the Global Cooperative Development Program II works with cooperative members to improve the productivity and competitiveness of key agricultural sectors to improve farmers’ incomes and ensure greater food security in the region. The USAID-funded program focuses on five unions located in the districts of Amhara, Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, SNNP and Tigray, as well as 15 primary cooperatives (three from each region). CDP’s goals are aligned with Feed the Future’s strategic priorities of sustainably reducing hunger and poverty through inclusive agricultural sector growth.


  • Improve performance and foster self-reliant cooperative enterprises that meet the evolving needs of their members
  • Increase incomes
  • Expand trade and investment opportunities


  • Develop seven training modules based on a baseline survey and needs assessment of the target cooperatives and promoters
  • Using a Training of Trainers model, equip cooperative promoters and union leaders to train their respective members with a highly participatory approach
  • Promote gender mainstreaming in primary cooperatives by conducting participatory training resulting in gender strategy development
  • Facilitate cooperative learning and sharing of best practices by conducting experience sharing visits and exchange events


  • Provided technical assistance that led to improvements in recordkeeping, strategic planning, financial planning, and quality control for cooperatives
  • Provided trainings in leadership, group dynamics, post-harvest handling, and governance for five unions and 15 primary target cooperatives in Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, Southern, and Tigray regions
  • Established five Cooperative Learning Information Centers (CLICs) in Addis Ababa at the Federal Cooperative Agency and in the Regional Cooperative Agencies (RCAs) of Benishangul-Gumuz, Oromia, SNNP (Southern region), and Tigray equipped with training and electronic information resources
  • Developed a digital video training, in collaboration with other stakeholders including universities and government agencies, to make the capacity building effort accessible to more cooperatives—a first of its kind in Ethiopia