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$292 million on ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2016. This corresponds to 6% of its total ODA, which is slightly below 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 71% in 2016). Contributions through the EU represented 50% of Italy’s total ODA to agriculture and rural development in 2015. 9% 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, traditionally being a large funder to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP). In 2016, FAO was the third-largest recipient of Italy’s ODA to agriculture and rural development (4%), while IFAD received 2% (WFP did not receive any funding in 2016).
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.