Germany - Agriculture


Fighting hunger and malnutrition are top German priorities; Germany is the largest government donor to agriculture

In 2019, Germany spent US$1.4 billion of its official development assistance (ODA) on agriculture, making it the largest Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donor to agriculture in absolute terms. However, this spending only represented 5% of Germany’s total ODA in that year (below the DAC average of 7%) putting Germany in 25th place in relative terms. Although funding to the sector decreased by 4% between 2018 and 2019, it has overall increased by 26% since 2015.

Bilateral channels are Germany’s preferred funding mechanism for this sector; 68% of Germany’s ODA to agriculture was directed bilaterally in 2019 (DAC average: 53%). The largest shares of bilateral funding in 2018 went to agricultural development (26%), rural development (20%), and agricultural policy and administrative management (9%). A small part of bilateral funding is earmarked funding through multilaterals; in 2019, this represented 9% of total agriculture ODA (DAC average: 12%). Only 32% of Germany’s ODA to agriculture was channeled as core funding to multilaterals in 2019 (DAC average: 47%), with by far the largest recipient being EU institutions (22%), followed by the International Development Bank (IDA; 6%), and the African Development Fund (2%).

Germany’s overall bilateral development financing focuses on sub-Saharan Africa (meaning the countries of Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa, according to the African Union’s designations), Asia, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with agriculture funding specifically focused on sub-Saharan Africa. 

In recent years, Germany has contributed to the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR; €35 million or US$39 million in both 2020 and 2021) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP; €100 million or US$112 million in 2020). At GAFSP’s 2020-2025 replenishment kick-off in October of 2020, which was hosted by the BMZ, Germany pledged €200 million (US$224 million) to GAFSP’s overall replenishment target of US$1.5 billion over five years. Even though CGIAR and GAFSP are multilateral organizations, this funding is included in Germany’s bilateral ODA to agriculture since the OECD does not consider these to be core contributions to multilateral organizations working on agriculture.

Agriculture was one of the strategic priorities of former Development Minister, Gerd Müller, who in 2014 launched ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’, a ‘Special Initiative’ on food and nutrition security as well as rural development, which will most likely be carried forward in this legislative term (2021-2025) under the new Development Minister Svenja Schulze. The initiative focuses on the following priorities: 1) food and nutrition security, 2) famine prevention and resilience-building, 3) innovation in the agricultural and food sectors, 4) structural transformation in rural areas, 5) natural resource protection, and 6) secure access to land. The Special Initiative is being implemented through official and non-governmental development cooperation, as well as through multilateral partners. According to the BMZ’s latest reform program (launched in May of 2020), ‘ONE WORLD – No Hunger’ is one of the BMZ’s five key thematic priorities, which are meant to remain consistent over multiple legislative periods.

Support for smallholder farmers is a strategic priority, and Germany places a special focus on women in this context. This support aims to make agriculture more productive and sustainable, and to improve adaptation to climate change, fostering innovation along the agricultural value chain with a focus on fair and secure tenure and land-use rights, as well as resilience against famine, with small-scale farmers being supported to move from subsistence farming to producing a marketable surplus. This approach is reiterated in the ‘Marshall Plan with Africa’ developed under Development Minister Müller. In May of 2019, Müller hosted a meeting of the Global Commission on Adaptation, where he pledged to support 60 million smallholder farmers, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, to become climate-resilient by 2030.

BMZ is responsible for agriculture policy broadly, including Special Initiative ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’; the BMEL represents Germany at FAO

The BMZ leads on developing strategies for development cooperation policies. It works closely with the Federal Ministry for Food and Agriculture (BMEL), which represents Germany at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and drives cooperation with the organization (the BMZ leads on the relationship with WFP and IFAD). Within the BMZ, the directorate on ‘Sustainable supply chains; food and rural development; sustainability standards; Commissioner for the special initiative „ONE WORLD – No Hunger“' is responsible for developing strategies on agriculture. The directorate evolved from the special unit ‘ONE WORLD - No Hunger’ in the spring of 2016. The head of the directorate is also the commissioner for this Special Initiative.