Italy - Agriculture

Agriculture is a key sector of Italy’s multilateral engagement

Italy spent US$327 million on official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture and rural development in 2019, making it the seventh-biggest DAC donor in this sector in absolute terms in 2019. This corresponds to 7% of Italy’s total ODA, in line with the 7% average 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 2019-2021. Italy emphasizes its ambition to support food security and rural and agricultural development in low-income countries and aims to support smallholder farmers and transition to sustainable agricultural practices while promoting the inclusion of women.

Italy channels large shares of its ODA to agriculture and rural development through multilateral organizations (US$255 million, or 78% of total agriculture ODA in 2019). Italy also supports research and development on agriculture through participation in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) partnership. Italy contributed US$3 million to the multilateral agricultural research network CGIAR in 2011-2016.  

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 contributed US$67 million to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) for 2019-2021. Italy also contributed US$36 million to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) in 2019.

Overall, Italy’s bilateral ODA to agriculture and rural development stood at US$72 million in 2019, or 5% of Italy’s total bilateral ODA that year. Italy’s bilateral support focused predominantly on agricultural development (35%) and rural development (18%).

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 is also slated to host the UN 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.