South Korea - Agriculture

Rural development is a key priority of South Korean development cooperation

South Korea spent US$182 million or 7% of total ODA on agriculture in 2016, the latest year for which multilateral and bilateral data is available from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). It is the 13th-biggest donor in absolute terms and the 9th-largest as a % of total ODA

The majority (77%) of South Korea’s ODA in 2016 was channeled bilaterally in 2016, including 8% as earmarked funding to multilaterals. This is considerably above OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) average of 55%. Bilateral funding for agriculture rose by 16% between 2016 and 2018, and now accounts for 9% of South Korea’s total bilateral ODA. This increase is likely linked to the significant expansion of the ODA budget assigned to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA). South Korea’s bilateral ODA in 2018 focused on agricultural development (28%), agricultural water resources (28%), and rural development (12%). 

The remaining 23% of South Korea’s ODA for agriculture in 2016 (the latest year for which data on multilateral contributions is available from the OECD) was channeled as core contributions to multilaterals. The International Development Association of the World Bank (IDA), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), and African Development Fund (AfDF) were the largest recipients, receiving 45%, 26%, and 10% respectively. 

According to government budget documents, in 2020, South Korea will provide KRW3.7 billion (US$3.4 million) to the World Food Programme (WFP) through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and its Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA). KRW11.6 (US$10.5 million) has been set aside for core and voluntary contributions to the FAO, which opened a partnerships and liaison office in Seoul in May 2019. KRW4.7 billion (US$4.3 million) has been allocated to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). In addition, South Korea will contribute KRW357 million (US$325,000) in 2020 to CGIAR from the Rural Development Administration’s ODA budget.  

Agricultural development is a priority for South Korea due to its links to economic growth and ability to increase rural income in partner countries. Within agriculture, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), South Korea’s implementing agency, identifies “inclusive and sustainable rural development” as one of three priority sectors in its ‘Agriculture and Rural Development Mid-Term Strategy 2016-2020’. The other priorities are expanding market access for sustainable production and promoting resilience to climate change in rural production systems and natural resources. As South Korea’s ODA budget increases over the next years, consistent with the government’s commitments to raise spending to 0.3% of gross national income (GNI) by 2030, ODA for agriculture is expected to increase. 

Offices within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs steer agriculture strategy

MOFA leads the development and implementation of South Korea’s development policy for agriculture and rural development. It is responsible for coordinating grant aid and contributions to UN agencies. The Development Policy Division, within MOFA’s Development Cooperation Bureau, leads the development of agriculture ODA policies, while MOFA’s Multilateral Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance Division is responsible for managing relations with multilateral agricultural organizations like WFP. Some funding for ODA related agriculture and food-related projects, including South Korea’s contributions to FAO, WFP, and IFAD comes from the International Cooperation Bureau of MAFRA. MAFRA works with MOFA to coordinate and report on their contributions to international organizations.


13 - South Korea bi-multi AG ODA

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