The agricultural cooperative movement in Cyprus was founded in 1909 by a village society of farmers who had returned from an inspection tour of Britain and Germany. The cooperative movement's development was slow, largely because few villagers were qualified to manage cooperatives. The Agricultural Bank, established in 1925 to furnish medium- and long-term loans to farmers, functioned through the cooperative societies. In 1937 a new impetus was given to the movement by the establishment of the Cooperative Central Bank (CCB), with membership limited to the cooperative societies.
The bank's initial function was to furnish the societies with funds for short-term loans to members. This function was expanded in 1960 (when the CCB absorbed the Agricultural Bank) to include medium- and long-term loans. By the late 1980s, the CCB was the third largest bank in the government-controlled area in terms of deposits. The cooperative movement's banking activity was especially strong in the countryside, but also competed with conventional banks in urban areas and had about a 30 percent share of the banking business as a whole.
In addition to banking and credit activities, the cooperative movement maintained retail stores. Cooperatives also marketed agricultural products and exported large amounts of citrus fruits, other fruits, table grapes, and vegetables. The largest winery on the island was the Cooperative Winery SODAP Ltd.
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