Australia - Agriculture

Agricultural funding has decreased in line with overall budget cuts 

Australia spent US$165 million, or 6%, of its total official development assistance (ODA) on agriculture in 2020 making it the 14th largest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor that year. This puts Australia’s prioritization of agriculture in line with other DAC donors which on average spent 6% of their ODA in this sector in 2020. Australia’s prioritization of agriculture has been steady in recent years, though in line with overall cuts to its ODA budget, spending in the sector has decreased.  

83%, or US$137 million, of Australia’s disbursements for agriculture were channeled bilaterally in 2020, including earmarked funding through multilaterals. Research and development to improve agricultural productivity and to better understand challenges faced by partner countries are important priorities in Australia’s ODA for agriculture. As such, agricultural research received 45% of bilateral agriculture ODA in 2020, funded through the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and ACIAR also work closely with the multilateral agricultural research network, CGIAR and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on agricultural research in partner countries. Agricultural development (15%) and rural development (15%) were the second and third most highly funded sectors of Australia’s bilateral ODA.  

Some of Australia’s bilateral funding is channeled through multilaterals as earmarked funding (US$41 million in 2020), such as Australia’s contributions to the multilateral agricultural research network, CGIAR (US$17 million in 2022) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP; US$104 million pledged for 2010-2024). 

Compared to other DAC donors, Australia spends very little on core contributions to multilateral organizations. In 2020, Australia channeled US$29 million in ODA as core funding to multilaterals, or 17% of its total ODA to agriculture (DAC average: 47%). These funds were divided between the International Development Association (IDA; 10% of total agricultural ODA), the Asian Development Bank (4%), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO; 3%), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD; 0.5%), and the Asian Development Fund (0.4%). 

Agricultural development is not a sector of primary concern in Australia’s development policy, ‘Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response’ (launched May 2020); however, the government still sees agriculture as an important component of partner countries’ recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and resilience to future crises. Australia supports its partners with knowledge-sharing around agricultural innovation, tackling biosecurity threats, and establishing market-oriented economic, trade, and agricultural policies.  

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade leads on policy development for agriculture; ACIAR supports research 

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) manages development investments. ACIAR, contractors, and other Australian government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment deliver some of Australia’s ODA for agriculture, fisheries, and water. ACIAR plays a distinctive role in research, collaborating with partner countries to foster the use of science and technology to address local challenges.