EU - Agriculture

Agriculture was among the EU’s top priorities for 2014 to 2020

In 2019, the European Union institutions (EUI; including the European Commission and the European Investment Bank, EIB) spent US$1.3 billion in ODA on agriculture, which accounted for 7% of their total ODA (DAC average: 7%). This makes the EUI the second-largest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to agriculture in absolute terms. The EUI’s ODA to the sector peaked in 2016 (US$1.8 billion). Between 2017 and 2019, the EUI’s funding for agriculture remained relatively stable between US$1.2 billion and US$1.4 billion.  

In 2019, all the EUI’s agricultural ODA was channeled as bilateral funding, including both funding channeled bilaterally (70%) as well as funding channeled as earmarked funding through multilaterals (30%), which is reported to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as bilateral funding. Funding was mainly channeled to projects in rural development (23%), agricultural policy and administrative management (23%), and agricultural development (19%).

The EUI support multiple thematic programs and multilateral initiatives that contribute to the agricultural sector:

  • In 2017, under the European Investment Plan (EIP), the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) (the EU’s blended finance facility) started the implementation of programs aimed at mobilizing investment in Africa and the EU neighborhood. One of the five investment windows supported under this program was ‘Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Entrepreneurs, and Agroindustry’. In the same year, the EUI launched the Agriculture Financing Initiative ‘AgriFI’ for supporting investments in agri-business projects in low- and middle-income countries. 
  • In 2018, the EUI launched the Development Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture ‘DeSIRA’ initiative, aimed at supporting climate-relevant adaptation and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in partner countries with the commitment to spend €270 million (US$302 million) between 2018-2020. In February 2019, the EUI provided €45 million (US$50 million) through the EFSD for the Agri-Business Capital ‘ABC’ Fund, established for improving access to finance to smallholders and farmers' organizations.
  • In May 2020, as a part of the ‘European Green Deal’, the European Commission released its proposal for a ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, which includes an international component with an emphasis on African countries and research cooperation. 
  • The EUI has consistently committed funding for the multilateral agricultural research network, CGIAR, including €32.3 million (US$36 million) for 2020-2021.

The EU highlighted sustainable agriculture as one of its five key development priorities for 2014 to 2020. Focus areas under this key priority were smallholder agriculture, the formation of producer groups, supply, and marketing chains, as well as government efforts to facilitate responsible private investment. The European Commission allocated €1.4 billion (US$1.6 billion) of the ‘Programme on Global Public Goods and Challenges’ (GPGC), funded through the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) for 2014 to 2020, to the priority area ‘Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture’. 

Under the 2021-2027 MFF, the geographic envelopes will likely continue to be the main sources of funding for agriculture. In NDICI - Global Europe, food security is also mentioned as a subset of issues to be addressed in the Global Challenges thematic program.

DG INTPA’s Directorate F ‘Green Deal, Digital Agenda’ leads the EU’s policy for agricultural ODA

Within the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships (DG INTPA; formerly the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation or DG DEVCO), the Directorate F ‘Green Deal, Digital Agenda’ oversees policies related to agriculture ODA. Two relevant units in this regard are Unit F.3 for ‘Sustainable Agri-Food Systems and Fisheries’, and Unit F.2 for ‘Environment, Sustainable Natural Resources’.