Issue Deep Dive
Last updated: December 21, 2022
ODA in Context
The Netherlands was the seventh-largest donor to agriculture in 2020 in absolute terms and tenth in relative terms.
The Netherlands’ ODA to agriculture and rural development stood at US$390 million in 2020, representing 8% of total ODA, slightly above the 6% average among members of the OECD DAC.
Total Dutch ODA to agriculture has remained relatively stable since 2016.
In 2020, the Netherlands channeled 72% of its agriculture ODA bilaterally, well above the DAC average of 53%, with spending focused primarily on ‘agricultural development.’ Part of this bilateral funding is earmarked funding through multilaterals. In 2020, this type of funding represented 20% of total agriculture ODA.
Multilateral Spending and Commitments
In line with its overall ODA split, the Netherlands spent less on multilateral commitments to agricultural organizations. In 2020, 31% of the Netherlands’ ODA to agriculture was provided as core contributions to multilateral organizations, mainly to the EU Institutions and the World Bank’s International Development Association.
The table below summarizes the Netherlands’ more recent commitments to multilaterals working on agricultural development. Some of these commitments are considered core funding to multilaterals while others will be earmarked (bilateral) funding from the Netherlands.
Funding and Policy Outlook
Agriculture is not a sector of primary concern. Agriculture and rural development have not traditionally been among the main thematic priorities of Dutch development assistance. Within policymaking, agriculture is not seen as an individual component, but rather as one intertwined with food security, water management, and climate protection.
The Netherlands’ continued focus on agriculture is outlined in the June 2022 policy strategy ‘Doing What the Netherlands is Good At,’ released by Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liesje Schreinemacher. In particular, the Dutch government works with local, international, and Dutch partners on innovative, environmentally sustainable solutions to boost productivity and revenues. New and existing Dutch programs in this area will increasingly target the Netherlands’ focus regions: the ‘West African Sahel,’ the ‘Horn of Africa,’ the MENA region. The Netherlands will continue to invest in strengthening farmers’ organizations, land rights, and agricultural research. The Dutch Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, released in July 2019, calls for the Netherlands to position itself as an ‘international frontrunner’ in food and agriculture digitalization.
In the 2023 development budget, the war in Ukraine is cited as a reason for increased food insecurity, and as one of the reasons for the Netherlands’ increased financial support to humanitarian assistance for 2022-2026. Most Dutch humanitarian assistance is unearmarked and assigned to UN organizations and funds, such as the International Red Crescent/Red Cross Movement and the Dutch Relief Alliance. In light of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and its impact on global food security, Minister Schreinemacher also argued for the World Trade Organization to speak out against export restrictions in June 2022.
Minister Schreinemacher recently explained that the increased climate finance will partly focus on food security, including promoting nature-based solutions. Furthermore, in a November 2, 2022 letter, Minister Schreinemacher confirmed that the upcoming ‘Africa Strategy’ will prioritize ‘farmer-managed natural regeneration’ to foster food security. Previously Minister Schreinemacher also endorsed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs's recommendation to integrate cash transfers to strengthen food and income security, as the MFA argued that cash transfers “offer social protection to the poorest and most marginalized populations, especially in Africa.”
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