Food security is a top priority; portfolio expected to expand due to links to climate change and green economy
Canadian official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture (including forestry and fishing) and rural development stood at US$279 million in 2016 (7% of total ODA), a share on par with the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average. According to data from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), funding to these sectors had decreased between 2010 (US$589 million, or 13% of Canada’s total ODA) and 2014, where it stood at US$250 million (7%). These cuts were 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. Since 2015 however, ODA funding for agriculture has been slightly increasing (+12% between 2014 and 2016, an increase of US$29 million in absolute amounts).
Under the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), food security is no longer a thematic priority of Canadian development assistance. The government is expected to reframe food security and agriculture within emerging priorities, such as women’s economic empowerment and climate change-related funding. 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$113 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.
Agriculture and rural development bilateral assistance stood at US$186 million in 2016. Key investment areas in 2016 were agricultural development (18%), food crop production (13%), agricultural education/training (9%).
Multilateral ODA made up 33% (US$93 million) of Canada’s total ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2016. 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, 15% of total agriculture ODA), followed by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD, 9%) and the African Development Fund (3%). Canada is also the second-largest contributor to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) after the US, having provided US$202 million as of August 31, 2016.
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.