Norway - Agriculture

Norway's focus is on food security, climate-smart agriculture, and sustainable fishing

Norway’s official development assistance (ODA) to agriculture (including forestry, fishing, and rural development) stood at US$184 million in 2020, ranking 13th among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors in absolute terms and 27th in relative terms. This amounted to 4% of its total ODA, below the 6% DAC average. Funding to agriculture ODA has been oscillating since 2016, between a low point at US$105 million in 2016 and a high at US$184 million in 2020.  

Norway disburses most of its agriculture funding bilaterally (US$123 million, or 67% in 2020, well above the DAC average of 53%). More than half of bilateral spending on agriculture (US$72 million) was channeled as earmarked funding to multilateral organizations (reported to the OECD DAC as bilateral funding). Top sectors of bilateral funding for agriculture in 2020 were agricultural development (33% of bilateral ODA to agriculture), fishery development (20%), and rural development (10%). 

In addition to bilateral funding, Norway collaborates with multilateral organizations in the agricultural sector. In 2020, core multilateral contributions for agriculture and rural development made up 33% of total agriculture ODA. Key partners were the Green Climate Fund (GCF; 16% of total ODA to agriculture in 2020), World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA; 9%), and the African Development Fund (5%). Norway also contributes to the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the United Nation’s (UN) World Food Programme (WFP). 

Although agriculture is not historically one of Norway’s development priorities, in a December 2017 recommendation to the government, Norway’s Parliament highlighted the need to increase efforts towards food security and climate-smart agriculture. A separate budget line for agriculture, fish, and food security at NOK1.5 billion (US$154 million) reflects the government’s efforts in this area. Climate-smart agriculture and food security is part of this budget line and represents a particularly important area, given Norway’s strong focus on environmental issues. Norway follows a rights-based approach; its support includes increasing smallholder participation in decision-making, building resilience, and enhancing productivity, particularly in support of women.  

In June 2019, Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) published an ‘Action plan for sustainable food production systems.’ Drawing on extensive consultations with academics and civil society, the plan takes a holistic approach to food production systems. Norway will prioritize its partner countries as well as regions vulnerable to famine and with poor access to nutritional food, especially in Eastern, Western, Central, and Southern Africa. The plan has four thematic areas: 1) food production, 2) value-creation and market, 3) nutrition and diet, and 4) policies and governance.  

Drawing on its expertise with marine resources, Norway is one of very few countries that focuses on fisheries, falling under the scope of agriculture ODA, according to OECD reporting standards. In 2016, the government launched a program called ‘Fish for Development,’ as a way to reduce poverty through promoting food security, sustainable fisheries management, and more profitable business activities. In 2022, the program’s budget stood at NOK351 million (US$37 million).  

Decision-making and funding is split between different MFA departments 

The most relevant departments in setting agriculture priorities within the MFA are the ‘Section for Energy, Climate and Food Security’ under the Department for Sustainable Development, and the ‘Section for UN Policy under the Department for Multilateral Cooperation.’ This is because a lot of Norway’s support for agriculture is channeled through international financing channels such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and World Food Programme (WFP). The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) steers programming through its Department of Climate, Energy and Environment and the ‘Section for Environment and Food Security.’ Responsibility for the ‘Fish for Development’ program funding and implementation lies with the MFA and the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, a Norwegian government agency that provides input for policymaking around fisheries. The secretariat sits within Norad. The Norwegian private sector also plays a lead role by pushing the topic in the public debate, for example, the ‘EAT Foundation’ (a non-profit founded by the Stordalen Foundation, Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Wellcome Trust to ‘catalyze a food system transformation’) is a leader in this area.