Agriculture is a key sector of Italy’s multilateral engagement

Italy spent US$368 million on ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015. This corresponds to 8% of its total ODA, which is slightly above the average spent by other donor countries on this sector. Along with food security, agriculture is one of the priority sectors outlined in the programming guidelines for 2015 to 2017, and is likely to be confirmed as a priority in the new guidelines for 2016 to 2018, with a focus on support to small-holder farmers and producer organizations.

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As for the rest of its ODA, Italy channels large shares of its ODA to agriculture and rural development through multilateral organizations. This includes the EU, the World Bank, and the Rome-based organizations of the UN working on agriculture and related issues. Contributions through the EU represented 41% of Italy’s total ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015. Eight percent of bilateral ODA to agriculture went through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). Italy also maintains close relationships with the Rome-based UN organizations working on agriculture and related issues, namely the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP). IFAD was the second-largest recipient of Italy’s ODA to agriculture and rural development (8%), and the FAO received 4%. Italy has traditionally been a large funder of these organizations. It also supports research and development on agriculture through participation in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) partnership. Funding levels to CGIAR have remained relatively stable in the past three years, around US$2-3 million per year.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

Italy’s bilateral ODA to agriculture and rural development stood at US$123 million in 2015, up from US$53 million in 2014. This is due to an agricultural development project in Iraq, to rebuild its agricultural sector, through a loan (US$41 million in 2015). Bilateral cooperation for agriculture and rural development stands at around 6% of Italy’s bilateral ODA. This is low compared to other donors of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), who spend, on average, 8% of their bilateral ODA for agriculture. Support focused on agricultural development (55% in 2015) is followed by agricultural education and training (14%), forestry development (7%) and rural development (4%). Priority countries in the sector are all in sub-Saharan Africa, including Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.

DGCS defines strategic priorities on agriculture

Priorities within agriculture are set by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) (see question four: ‘Who are the main actors in Italy’s development cooperation?’). DGCS’s geographic departments, as well as the office on ‘Multilateral Cooperation,’ are relevant actors for defining Italy’s agriculture policy. Within Italy’s new development agency, AICS, the office for ‘rural development and food’ is in charge of setting priorities around agriculture.


Italy’s focus countries for bilateral agriculture investments:

  • Senegal
  • Niger
  • Burkina Faso
  • Ethiopia
  • Mozambique