Food security remains a priority; portfolio expected to expand due to links to climate change and green economy

Canadian ODA to agriculture (including forestry and fishing) and rural development  stood at US$306 million in 2015 (6% of total ODA)—the same level as in 2014, slightly below the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 7%. According to OECD data, funding  to these sectors has decreased since peaking in 2010 at US$745 million (13% of Canada’s total ODA). These cuts have in part been driven by an increased prioritization of maternal, newborn, and child health (MNCH) funding over the past years, while the overall ODA budget has simultaneously decreased.

Food security is one of five thematic priorities of Canadian development assistance, and has remained as such under Prime Minister Trudeau. As part of an emerging prioritization of climate change-related funding, the government is expected to reframe food security and agriculture within climate change going forward. This may lead to funding increases. In addition, Canada plans to integrate its food security policies into a more comprehensive approach for stimulating clean and sustainable economic growth.

Canada has made several agricultural-related commitments over the past years. This includes a pledge to Nutrition for Growth (CAD145 million; US$141 million) and support for the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, for which Canada pledged and disbursed US$248 million for the 2012 to 2014 period. Canada has also provided CAD10 million to AgResults, a results-based initiative aimed at strengthening food security and supporting smallholder farmers in developing countries.

Bilateral assistance accounted for 67% (US$206 million) of Canada’s total ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015. Key investment areas in 2015 were agricultural development (20%), agricultural research (12%), food crop production (12%), agricultural education/training (8%), and agricultural policy and administrative management (7%).

Multilateral ODA made up 33% (US$100 million) of Canada’s total ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015. However, including earmarked bilateral funding, half (51%) of ODA to these sectors was channeled through multilaterals. Top recipients were the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA; US$52 million), followed by African Development Fund (5%; US$14 million), and the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (3%; US$10 million).

Canada is also the second-largest contributor to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) after the US, having provided CAD255 million (US$253 million) as of August 31, 2016.

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According to ‘Increasing Food Security: CIDA’s Food Security Strategy’ (2009), which is currently still the framework for Global Affairs Canada’s (GAC) agriculture-related work, Canada’s support for food security focuses on: 1) food assistance and nutrition, 2) sustainable agricultural development, and 3) research and development. Canada places an emphasis on strengthening agricultural and rural development policies and management processes, especially on those which affect smallholder rural farmers and women farmers. Among others, Canada strives to assist smallholder farmers in increasing their productivity, and to improve resilience to climate change and agricultural value chains through new technologies and innovation.

Canada is also a strong supporter of agricultural research. It supports the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR), providing US$30-50 million per year in the period 2013 to 2015. Apart from GAC, an important player is Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). From 2009 to 2014, the IDRC managed the Canadian International Food Security Research Fund, which supported research partnerships between organizations from Canada and developing countries.

Several GAC branches are involved in decision-making on agriculture

Under the leadership of the Prime Minister, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) steers development policy, including for agriculture. Within GAC, key branches for agriculture-related programs are the GAC’s four geographic branches (Americas; Asia Pacific; Europe, Middle-East and Maghreb; sub-Saharan Africa), which manage bilateral country programs. In addition, the Global Food Security and Environment branch and the Global Sustainable Economic Growth branches are key players in the development of Canada’s agriculture-related strategies and policies. Moreover, the Global Issues and Development Branch manages relations with multilateral agricultural initiatives.

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