Agriculture is not a top funding priority; focus on women and the links to food security is increasing

Agriculture and rural development are not among the key priorities of Swedish development assistance. ODA to the sector amounted to US$191 million in 2015, or 3% of Sweden’s total ODA. This is much less than the 7% average among member countries of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Within the 2016 Aid Policy Framework, agriculture is part of the broader theme of ‘international trade and sustainable investments’, and focuses on small-scale agriculture. It pays particular attention to women, and links agriculture to food security and economic development as well as to health. At the 2015 Conference of Parties in Paris ( COP21), the Swedish Government endorsed two initiatives related to agriculture and forestry: the New York Forest Declaration, aimed at reducing global deforestation, restoring degraded forests and ensuring good management of forests, and the ‘4/1,000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate’, focused on increasing soil carbon storage in agricultural land.

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Sweden channeled 51% of its agriculture and rural development ODA as core contributions to multilateral organizations in 2015, mostly as assessed contributions. The largest recipient is the International Development Association (IDA) of the World Bank, through which Sweden channeled 21% of its total agriculture ODA. Other key recipients of agriculture ODA include European Institutions (19%), and the African Development Fund (AfDF; 7%). In parallel, support to the Global Environment Facility is increasing: disbursements are set to go from SEK150 million in 2015 (US$18 million) to SEK427 million in 2016 (US$51 million).

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In 2015, Sweden provided US$94 million as bilateral funding to agriculture. This corresponds to 2% of the country’s total bilateral ODA, well below the DAC average of 6%. Just under one-third (31%) of bilateral funding to agriculture went to agricultural development. Other focus areas included agricultural research (17%) and rural development (15%). The Swedish development agency, Sida, focuses on promoting small-scale farming, e.g., by improving equal access to natural resources, investing in infrastructure, improving knowledge about markets, and reforming laws to increase income and employment. Against the backdrop of the 2015-2018 Feminist Foreign Policy, Sida and the government will likely increase their focus on the role of women in agriculture.

Countries in which agriculture is a priority of Swedish bilateral cooperation:

  • Afghanistan
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Mozambique
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia

The ‘economic and sustainable development’ takes the lead on programming within Sida

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN Policy Department, the Global Agenda Departments and the Department for International Development and Cooperation are the main departments that focus on agriculture. The latter coordinates the development of strategy for Sida, including on agriculture-related topics. Within Sida, besides the geographic departments in charge of country-specific programming, the most relevant unit is Economic and Sustainable Development Unit in the Department for International Organizations and Policy Support.