Italy - Agriculture
At a glance
Agriculture is a key sector of Italy’s multilateral engagement
Italy spent US$299 million on official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture and rural development in 2016 (the latest year for which complete data is available). This corresponds to 6% of its total ODA, which is slightly below the 7% average spent by other members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC).
‘Agriculture and food security’, has been confirmed as a traditional priority focus in the latest Programming Guidelines for Italian Development Cooperation 2019-2021. Italy emphasizes its ambition to support food security and rural and agricultural development. Italy aims to support smallholder farmers and promoting the change to more sustainable agricultural practices while taking into account the inclusion of women, all with a focus on low-income countries.
Italy channels large shares of its ODA to agriculture and rural development through multilateral organizations (US$226 million, or 71% of total ODA in 2016). 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 CGIAR between 2011-2016.
Italy maintains close relationships with the Rome-based United Nations (UN) organizations working on agriculture and related issues, however financial contributions have been moderate in recent years. Italy contributed US$66 million to the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) for the period of 2019-2021. Italy also contributed to the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and ranked FAO’s eighth-largest resource partner for voluntary and assessed contributions and ninth for voluntary contributions, with €186 million (US$219 million) between 2008 and 2017. Lastly, in 2020, Italy provided $23 million to the World Food Programme (WFP).
Overall, Italy’s bilateral ODA to agriculture and rural development stood at US$101 million in 2018 (the latest year for which bilateral data is available). Bilateral cooperation for agriculture and rural development stood at around 4% of Italy’s total 2018 bilateral ODA. Italy’s bilateral support focused on agricultural development (26% in 2018), rural development (26%), followed by agricultural education and training (17%). The largest single amount of bilateral agriculture ODA disbursed by Italy went to Africa (US$12 million) channeled through the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) for education activities around biosafety.
On November 5, 2020, Italy and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the Food Coalition, a voluntary multi-stakeholder alliance to prevent and mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on food systems. The Food Coalition aims to advocate for strengthening global agri-food systems, raise awareness, share best practices, as well as mobilize financial resources and technical expertise to support the most vulnerable. More than 30 countries have expressed interest in joining the Coalition. At the launch event, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte committed to including the fight against hunger in the Italian G20’s presidency agenda for 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’, are relevant actors for defining Italy’s agriculture policy. Within Italy’s development agency, AICS, the ‘Rural Development and Food’ office is in charge of setting priorities 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 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.