United Kingdom - Agriculture

The UK supports economic growth and poverty reduction through agriculture and agro-industry

The UK spent US$971 million or 5% of its total ODA on agriculture in 2019. This makes the UK the fourth-largest contributor to the agricultural sector in absolute terms. As a share of total ODA, the UK puts less emphasis on agriculture than other DAC donors. It spent 5% of its total ODA on agriculture in 2019 (DAC average: 7%). The UK is only the 26th-largest contributor to the agriculture sector in relative terms. The UK’s prioritization of agriculture as a share of total ODA has fallen marginally over the last five years, from 6% in 2015 to 5% in 2019.

While agriculture has not been identified as one of the government’s seven policy priorities for FY2021/22, it will likely feature across several of them, including climate change and biodiversity, trade and economic development, and R&D. The latter mentions agriculture as a research priority. In particular, the greatest opportunities for future agriculture funding may lie in the UK’s international climate finance (ICF). The UK has committed to doubling ICF over the next five years, providing at least £11.6 billion (US$14.8 billion) between 2021-2025. The UK funds ICF exclusively through its ODA budget and the government has ring-fenced this funding, protecting it from ODA budget cuts. Current estimates suggest that in FY2021/22 ODA spending on climate and biodiversity could be as high as £2.3 billion (US$2.9 billion), or just over one-fifth (21%) of total UK ODA.  The UK government has already announced that it will provide £274 million (US$368 million) in ICF to support a new, seven-year regional program: Climate Action for a Resilient Asia (CARA). CARA will provide adaptation finance to the Asian region and is aimed at strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities and protecting the environment against the impacts of climate change. The program will focus on promoting nature-based solutions, improving climate change policy and planning, strengthening weather and climate forecasting services, and helping to support urban resilience.


US$546 million or 56% of the UK’s ODA for agriculture is disbursed through bilateral channels including as earmarked funding through multilaterals, above the DAC average of 53%. Bilateral funding to agriculture fluctuated in the last years from its peak of US$663 million or 61% share of total ODA to agriculture in 2015 to its lowest point of US$489 million or 45% share of total ODA to agriculture in 2018. The UK focuses its bilateral agricultural funding on agricultural development (35%) and agricultural research (21%). Bilateral funding to agriculture fluctuated in size and share of ODA from 2015 to 2019.

Core contributions to multilaterals in 2019 account for US$425 million or 44% of the UK’s ODA to agriculture, slightly below the DAC average of 47%. The largest recipients of the UK’s multilateral financing to agriculture were the EU institutions (EUI; US$230 million), the International Development Association (IDA; US$146 million), followed by the African Development Fund (ADF; US$30 million). Funding for IDA declined in 2019, resulting in an overall drop in agricultural-related contributions to multilaterals compared to 2018.

The FCDO is responsible for determining the UK’s agricultural development agenda

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) sets the strategic direction for the UK’s agriculture development agenda and is responsible for administering the UK’s agricultural ODA. Agriculture ODA is managed by the FCDO’s Director-General of the Indo-Pacific region who is also responsible for economic development and under the Director-General for Africa. Finally, agricultural research ODA is managed by the FCDO’s Research and Evidence Division in coordination with the two teams above.