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This booklet is the outcome of a joint research activity on the challenge of capital formation in agricultural cooperatives in developing and transitional countries. This work began in 1992 through FAO, which provided the main financing for the activity and other member organizations of the inter-agency Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives (COPAC), including the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), the United Nations (UN) and the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU).

The activity was based on a research design developed jointly by John Rouse, FAO Senior Cooperatives Officer in close collaboration with J.D. Von Pischke, at the time a World Bank Senior Financial Analyst, and on field research conducted during 1992-1995 in Guatemala, Hungary, India, Kenya, Poland and Slovakia. All members of COPAC participated in these studies, as well as other institutions, including the Institute of Rural Management in Anand, India (IRMA), the Kenya National Federation of Cooperatives (KNFC), the Finnish Cooperative Centre (FCC) and the University of Missouri, USA. Two COPAC Open Forums were held on the subject in Rome (March 1993) and Geneva (October 1993) and provided important contributions to the research process.

A final International Technical Meeting on Capital Formation in Agricultural Cooperatives was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome, 8-10 November 1995 to discuss the findings and draw conclusions from the global research effort. More than 50 persons from 17 countries attended. The gathering included international experts in the field of cooperative finance from China, Finland, France, India, Italy Germany Greece, Kenya, Poland, United Kingdom and USA.

The preparation of a simply-written booklet on the topic of capital formation in agricultural cooperatives was one of the main recommendations of this final meeting. This booklet, to a large extent, represents the collective thinking on this topic of the members of that group, to whom we are eternally thankful.

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