Netherlands - Agriculture

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Agriculture is not a priority for the Netherlands but is incorporated into different sectors

Agriculture and rural development have not traditionally been among the main thematic priorities of Dutch development assistance. Within policymaking, agriculture is not seen as a single component, but rather as one intertwined with food security, water management, and climate protection. The Rutte III Cabinet, in office 2017-2021, committed to making agriculture a priority area in the field of poverty reduction. At the 2019 UN General Assembly, the Netherlands announced that it would be reorienting €100 million (US$112 million) towards supporting food systems for productivity and resilience. The Netherlands also announced its plan to increase contributions to the multilateral agricultural research network, CGIAR, to €50 million (US$56 million) over two years (2020-2021). Dutch funding accounts for approximately 7% of CGIAR’s total budget.

The Netherlands’ official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture and rural development stood at US$392 million in 2019. This represented 7% of total ODA, in line with the average among members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC).

In 2019, 31% of the Netherlands’ ODA to agriculture was provided as core contributions to multilateral organizations, mainly to the EU institutions (15% of agriculture ODA), and the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA; 13%).

In 2019, the Netherlands channeled 69% of its agriculture ODA bilaterally (US$271 million; above the DAC average of 53%) with spending focused on agricultural development (28% of bilateral agriculture ODA), food crop production (15%), agricultural education/training (12%), and agricultural research (10%). Parts of this bilateral funding is earmarked funding through multilaterals: in 2016, this type of funding represented 13% of total agriculture ODA (DAC average: 12%).


Priority countries for bilateral cooperation on agriculture:

  • Food security: Burundi Ethiopia, Great Lakes region,   Rwanda, Uganda

  • Water: Bangladesh, Benin, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique South Sudan.


The May 2018 policy note ‘Investing in Global Prospects: For the World, For the Netherlands’ released by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, outlined a commitment to combatting hunger and malnutrition and improving agricultural productivity. In particular, the Dutch government works with local, international, and Dutch partners on innovative, environmentally sustainable solutions to boost productivity and revenues. New and existing Dutch programs in this area will increasingly target the focus regions West African Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA; for detailed information on Dutch focus regions see ‘ODA breakdown’). The Netherlands will continue to invest in strengthening farmers’ organizations, land rights, and agricultural research. The Dutch Digital Agenda for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, released in July of 2019, calls for the Netherlands to position itself to be an ‘international frontrunner’ in digitalization in agriculture and food.

The Directorate of Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) is responsible for policies related to food security

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) is responsible for designing and coordinating the implementation of Dutch development policy. Within DGIS, the Department of Inclusive Green Growth (IGG) focuses on policies related to food security, climate, water, energy, natural resources, and the arctic. IGG includes a specific thematic cluster on food security. The Sustainable Economic Development Department within DGIS supports farmer cooperatives in low-income countries.