Agriculture is featured in the EU's domestic and external action food policy through its Farm to Fork strategy. This agriculture/food systems strategy emphasizes agroecology and includes an external dimension, with a particular focus on Africa.
As of late, the focus has been mainly on food security in light of the crises stemming by Russia’s aggression of Ukraine. Team Europe adopted conclusions in 2022 in response to global food insecurity. One of the strands of focus is production, resilience, and food systems transformation. The Council strongly encouraged the Commission and the Member States to increase support to sustainable, inclusive and resilient agri-food systems by investing in food value chains and agro-ecological and other innovative approaches in general, more efficient and sustainable use of synthetic inputs (e.g. fertilizers, pesticides), improved resilience to climate change, enhanced capacities of local producers, and access to finance by smallholder farmers and farmers’ organizations.
EU leaders have recently agreed to accelerate work on EU initiatives aiming to support Africa’s sustainable agri-food production capacities and support the development of input manufacturing capacity in developing countries, in particular sustainable fertilizers.
There are no regional or global Team Europe Initiatives that focus specifically on agriculture, however, the Green Team Europe Initiative in Partnership with ASEAN includes a focus on sustainable food systems.
In 2021, the EUI spent US$1.5 billion of total ODA on agriculture, which accounted for 6% of total ODA. This makes the EUI the second-largest donor to agriculture in absolute terms.
After a decline between 2018 and 2020, the EUI’s ODA to the sector increased again by 9% between 2020 and 2021.
The overall decrease in ODA to agriculture between 2017 and 2021 is due to a constrained ODA budget, which is a result of competing issues such as Covid-19 recovery and pressures related to the war in Ukraine. Despite decreasing ODA funding, the EU continues to emphasize the importance of the sector, especially in relation to food security, as this is a growing priority for the EU. For example, the EU plans to invest US$19 billion in food security worldwide between 2020-2024.
In 2021, all the EUI’s ODA to agriculture was channeled as bilateral funding. This included funds channeled as earmarked funding through multilaterals (22%).
Projects related to rural development (26%), agriculture development (22%), and agricultural policy and administrative management (19%) received the largest shares of funding. These three sectors have also represented the largest sectors in previous years.
Feeding Future Generations
Although up until 2021, the EUI have not provided any core contributions to multilaterals working in agriculture, recent pledges made to multilaterals working on this issue are summarized below. Some of these pledges will be counted as bilateral funding, since they constituted earmarked funding through multilaterals rather than core contributions.
Climate change adaptation and mitigation will continue to be important components of the EUI’s agriculture ODA. The EU’s Farm to Fork strategy outlines a plan to promote environmentally and socially just food systems. This strategy was proposed by the EC in May 2020 as a part of the European Green Deal. It includes an international component, with an emphasis on countries in Africa and research cooperations. Through the DeSIRA, launched in 2018, the EU supports climate-relevant adaptation and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in partner countries. It committed to spending US$305 million between 2018-2020.
The EU will continue to support CGIAR. The EUI have consistently committed funding to the multilateral agricultural research network, CGIAR, including US$35 million for 2020-2021. In September 2021, the EC announced a new commitment US$166 million to CGIAR across the 2021-2027 EU long-term budget. The funding will come from the Global Challenges budget line in NDICI - Global Europe.
Funding for agriculture will continue to come mainly from the geographic envelope. Under the 2021-2027 MFF’s NDICI - Global Europe, most of the funding for agriculture will come from the geographic funding envelope. However, food security is mentioned as a subset of issues to be addressed in the Global Challenges – Planet thematic program.
Investments in food security continue to be prioritized. In addition to the 2021-2027 MFF’s NDICI - Global Europe, in September 2022, the EC allocated funding worth US$632 million from the EDF for food security to countries in West, Central, East, and Southern Africa, the Caribbean, and Pacific. The funding was re-directed from de-committed funding from the 10th and 11th EDF. In November 2022, the EC announced an additional US$221 million in humanitarian assistance to help individuals in partner countries impacted by the global food crisis. The funding will be channeled to countries in West and Central Africa, East and Southern Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, as well as to Afghanistan specifically. An additional US$27 million was pledged in January 2023 to several partner countries in Africa.
EUI supports blended investments in agri-business. Through its AgriFI, launched in 2017, the EU facilitates impact investments in agri-business projects in low- and middle-income countries. Through its ABC Fund, launched in February 2019, the EUI provided US$50 million through the EFSD to improve access to finance for smallholders and farmers' organizations.
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