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$157 million in 2019, ranking 15th among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors. This amounted to 4% of its total ODA, well below the 7% average among members of the OECD’s DAC (28th among DAC donors in relative terms). Funding to agriculture ODA has been oscillating since 2015, between a low point at US$115 million in 2016 and a high at US$157 million in 2019. A 20% increase between 2018 and 2019 was spread across all sub-sectors.


Norway’s disburses the vast majority of its agriculture funding bilaterally (78% in 2019, well above the DAC average of 53%).  Of this US$123 million, slightly over half (US$66 million) was actually channeled as earmarked funding to multilateral organizations (reported to the OECD DAC as bilateral funding), half of which went to United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO; US$32 million). Top sectors of bilateral funding for agriculture in 2019 were agricultural development (21% of bilateral ODA to agriculture), fishery development (18%), and rural development (15%).

In addition to bilateral funding, Norway collaborates with multilateral organizations in the agricultural sector. In 2019, core multilateral contributions for agriculture and rural development made up 22% of total agriculture ODA. Key partners were the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA; US$13 million), the African Development Fund (US$9 million), and the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Norway also contributes to the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the Crop Trust, and the World Food Programme (WFP). During the IDA20 replenishment meeting in December of 2021, Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it will give more than NOK3.3 billion (US$351 million) in funding for the three-year period of IDA20, a 7% increase compared to Norway's contributions to IDA19. Approximately NOK100 million (US$11 million) of the funding will be targeted towards debt relief contributions in low-income countries.


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 and food security reflects the government’s efforts in this area. As part of funding under this budget line, the government announced a NOK60 million (US$7 million) increase in 2021 specifically for climate-smart agriculture and food security, a particularly important area given Norway’s strong focus on environmental issues. Norway follows a rights-based approach; its support includes increasing smallholder’s participation in decision-making, building resilience, and enhancing productivity, particularly towards women.

In June of 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 NOK20 million (US$2.1 million).

Decision-making and funding is split between different MFA departments

The most relevant departments in setting agriculture priorities within the MFA are 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 FAO, IFAD, and 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 policy-making 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.