Italy - Agriculture

Agriculture is a key sector of Italy’s multilateral engagement


Italy spent US$378 million on official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture and rural development in 2020, making it the eighth-largest DAC donor in this sector in absolute terms in 2020 and the fourth-largest in relative terms. This corresponds to 8% of Italy’s total ODA, slightly higher than the 6% spent on average by other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC). 

‘Agriculture and food security’ was re-confirmed as a priority in the latest ‘Programming Guidelines for Italian Development Cooperation’ for 2021-2023. Italy emphasizes its ambition to support food security and rural and agricultural development in low-income countries, as well as aims to support smallholder farmers and the transition to sustainable agricultural practices, while also promoting the inclusion of women. 

Italy channels large shares of its ODA to agriculture and rural development through multilateral organizations (US$255 million, or 67% of total agriculture ODA in 2020). 

Italy maintains close relationships with the Rome-based UN organizations working on agriculture and related issues, however financial contributions have been moderate in recent years. Italy committed US$96 million for IFAD’s 2022-2025 budget cycle, a 45% increase from its 2019-2021 replenishment. Italy contributed 42% of its multilateral agricultural contributions to the EU Institutions, 11% to the International Development Association (IDA), 4% to the African Development Fund, 4% to the Adaptation Fund, 3% to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), and 2% to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  

Overall, Italy’s bilateral ODA to agriculture and rural development stood at US$124 million in 2020, or 9% of Italy’s total bilateral ODA that year. Italy’s bilateral support focused predominantly on agricultural development (46%), agrarian reform (16%), and rural development (11%). 

On November 5, 2020, Italy and the FAO launched the ‘Food Coalition,’ a voluntary multi-stakeholder alliance to prevent and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on food systems. Italy also hosted the UN COP26 pre-summit on Food Systems from July 19-21, 2021. 


DGCS defines strategic priorities on agriculture

Priorities within agriculture are set by the Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) (see section: ‘Main actors’). DGCS’s geographic departments, as well as the office for ‘Multilateral Cooperation’ help define Italy’s agriculture policy. Within Italy’s development agency, AICS, the ‘Rural Development and Food’ office oversees priority-setting around agriculture. 

Rome hosts the main UN agencies tasked with addressing food security, agriculture, and sustainable development issues. FAO, WFP, and IFAD are together referred to as the ‘Rome Agri-food Hub.’ The government has a close relationship with these agencies and Italy’s development cooperation in the sector of agriculture is therefore heavily influenced by the policies of the ‘Rome Agri-food Hub.’