United Kingdom - Agriculture

UK supports economic growth and poverty reduction through agriculture and agro-industry: bilateral funding has fallen since 2015

The UK spent US$1.0 billion or 5% of its total ODA on agriculture in 2016, the latest year for which multilateral and bilateral data is available. The UK was the fourth-largest spender on agriculture in absolute terms in 2016 but only the 20th-largest in relative terms. Bilateral funding for agriculture peaked in 2015 (at US$680 million) before falling in subsequent years, 2018 bilateral flows were 26% lower than 2015 flows.

13 - the UK bi-multi AG ODA

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15 - AG ranking absolute - UK

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16 - AG ranking percentage - UK

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45% of the UK’s agriculture ODA was channeled as core contributions to multilateral organizations in 2016. The largest recipients were IDA and the EU institutions, receiving 41% and 39% of the UK’s multilateral agriculture ODA, respectively. The UK also made core contributions to the African Development Fund (AfDF), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The UK is a significant funder of agricultural research and was the third-largest provider of core funding to the multilateral agricultural research network ‘CGIAR’ in 2019. The UK pledged an additional US$56 million to CGIAR in 2020, and a further US$34 million to support the recommendations of the Global Commission on Adaptation.

The UK promotes the role of the private sector in boosting agricultural development and wider economic transformation. It co-funds the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund, which aims to stimulate private-sector investment in agriculture and financial markets across Africa, and the AgResults Initiative, which aims to incentivize the private sector in low-income countries to invest in the development and delivery of agricultural technologies.

Agriculture has gained importance in the UK’s development agenda since the former Department for International Development (DFID) published its ‘Conceptual Framework on Agriculture’ in 2015. However, this increased policy focus has not translated into consistent funding increases. The 2015 framework focuses on the role of agriculture and agro-industry in supporting economic growth and poverty reduction and included a focus on helping family and smallholder farmers to become commercially viable. Promoting economic growth aligns with the government's continued aim of promoting self-sufficiency in partner countries. The 2015 framework outlines three cross-cutting priorities:

  1. Inclusion and women’s economic empowerment: promote inclusive agricultural transformation and create equal opportunities for women, men, and marginalized groups;
  2. Production of nutritious and safe food: develop policies and programs to promote agricultural transformation and analyze how agriculture can increase nutritional benefits.
  3. Environmental sustainability and climate-smart agriculture: promote growth and poverty reduction that is resilient to climate-related challenges.

DFID’s 2017 Economic Development Strategy also identified agriculture as a priority sector, particularly supporting agri-business and subsistence farmers.

DFID was responsible for determining the UK’s agricultural development agenda

DFID set the strategic direction for the UK’s agriculture development agenda and was responsible for administering the UK’s agricultural ODA. Within DFID’s headquarters, the Economic Development Division (within the Growth and Resilience Department) managed initiatives related to the Conceptual Framework on Agriculture and the link between the agricultural sector and economic growth. The Growth and Resilience Department worked closely with the agricultural research team within the Research and Evidence Division. Overall, the design and implementation of agriculture programming were decentralized, with DFID’s country offices managing bilateral programs. Again, how agriculture policy will be decided within the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is not yet clear.