Agriculture is a key sector of Italy’s multilateral engagement
Agriculture and food security are key sectors in Italy’s development cooperation. Italy spent US$312 million on ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015 (latest year for which complete data is available). This corresponds to 8% of its total ODA, which is slightly above the average spent by other donor countries on this sector (7%). Agriculture, along with food security, is one of the priority sectors outlined in the Programming Guidelines and Directions for Italian Development Cooperation 2017-2019.
As for the rest of its ODA, Italy channels large shares of its ODA to agriculture and rural development through multilateral organizations (US$208 million, or 67% in 2015). This includes the EU, the World Bank, and the Rome-based organizations of the UN working on agriculture and related issues. Contributions through the EU represented 41% of Italy’s total ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015. Eight percent of bilateral ODA to agriculture went through the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA). Italy also maintains close relationships with the Rome-based UN organizations working on agriculture and related issues, namely the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP). IFAD was the second-largest recipient of Italy’s ODA to agriculture and rural development (8%), and the FAO received 4%. Italy has traditionally been a large funder to these organizations.
The Programming Guidelines focus on the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, which brings together 38 donors, multilateral organizations, and financial institutions to exchange knowledge and programs aimed at promoting rural development, nutrition, and agricultural productivity. Italy’s development agency AICS is a member of the Platform’s board and has confirmed a financial contribution. Italy also supports research and development on agriculture through participation in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) partnership; funding levels to CGIAR have remained relatively stable over the past years, with a US$5 million contribution in 2016.
Italy’s bilateral ODA to agriculture and rural development stood at US$84 million in 2016, down from US$104 million in 2015. It is likely that the decrease in funds is due to specific calls for proposals of the development agency, AICS, in 2016, rather than indicating a shift in Italy’s priorities around agriculture. A spike in 2015 was due to a loan provided to Iraq for an agricultural development project (US$34 million in 2015, dropping to US$15 million in 2016). Bilateral cooperation for agriculture and rural development stands at around 3% of Italy’s bilateral ODA. This is very low compared to other donors of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), who spend, on average, 8% of their bilateral ODA for agriculture. This low share is, however, explained by high costs of hosting refugees, which distort the overall picture of focus of funding. When excluding these, agriculture projects accounted for 10% of Italy’s bilateral funding. Italy’s support focused on agricultural development (36% in 2016) and rural development (31%), followed by agricultural education and training (16%). Funding to rural development increased by US$22 million between 2015 and 2016, primarily driven by loans to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia for strengthening drought resilience and rural development. Priority countries in the sector are all in sub-Saharan Africa, and include Senegal, Niger, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, and Mozambique.
Italy’s focus countries for bilateral agriculture investments:
- Burkina Faso
DGCS defines strategic priorities on agriculture
Priorities within agriculture are set by the Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) (see question four: ‘Who are the main actors in Italy’s development cooperation?’). DGCS’s geographic departments, as well as the office on ‘Multilateral Cooperation’, are relevant actors for defining Italy’s agriculture policy. Within Italy’s new development agency, AICS, the ‘Rural Development and Food’ office is in charge of setting priorities around agriculture.