Sweden - Agriculture

Agriculture is not a top funding priority; focus on women and links to food security are increasing

Agriculture and rural development are not among the key priorities of Swedish development cooperation. According to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), funding to the sector amounted to US$284 million in 2019, making Sweden the eighth-largest DAC donor in absolute terms. In relative terms, Sweden spent 5% of its total ODA on agriculture and rural development. This puts it below the DAC average of 7%, earning Sweden 23rd rank among Donor Assistance Committee (DAC) donors in relative terms. Sweden's funding to agriculture has steadily increased in recent years with the exception of 2019 when it decreased slightly by 3% (from US$293 million in 2018). 

While Sweden's total agriculture ODA actually saw a slight decrease in 2019, its growing bilateral disbursements to the sector meant that the percent of agriculture ODA as a portion of total ODA continued its upward trajectory, having doubled in size between 2015 and 2019. 65% of Sweden's ODA to agriculture was directed bilaterally in 2019 (DAC average: 53%). Bilateral funding remained focused mainly on agricultural development (32% of bilateral agriculture funding), rural development (18%), and agricultural research (14%). 

Sweden also channels some ODA as core contributions to multilateral organizations: US$98 million in 2019 or 35% of its agriculture ODA (DAC average: 47%). Key partners in 2019 were the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), European Union (EU) Institutions, and the African Development Fund (ADF). In parallel, Sweden also supports the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the largest recipient in the agriculture research portfolio of Sweden's International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). In a 2019 commitment framework, Sida set funding levels for CGIAR 2019-2022 at SEK470 million (US$50 million) as unrestricted support to the fund's portfolio window (W1; for pooled funds without restriction or specific designation by the funder), SEK20 million (US$2 million) for the CGIAR research program (CRP) on water, land, and ecosystems (WLE), and SEK16 million (US$2 million) for the program on small-scale fishing (CRP FISH). The WLE program aims to deliver agricultural solutions that enhance sustainability of natural resources, equity as well as the well-being of people in low-income countries, while CRP FISH seeks to enhance productivity and access to fish by those most in need to reduce poverty, enhance food and nutrition security through sustainable aquaculture and resilient small-scale fisheries.

Within the 2016 'Policy framework for Swedish development cooperation and humanitarian assistance', agriculture fits within the broader theme of 'international trade and sustainable investments' and focuses on small-scale agriculture. This section of the policy pays particular attention to women and highlights the connections between agriculture, food security, and economic development, as well as to health. There is no dedicated strategy for agriculture; the most relevant policy documents are the 'Strategy for sustainable economic development', and the 'Strategy for sustainable environment and climate change'.

Sida focuses on promoting small-scale farming, for example by improving and seeking to equalize access to natural resources, investing in infrastructure, improving knowledge about markets, and reforming laws to increase income and employment. Against the backdrop of Sweden's Feminist Foreign Policy, introduced in 2015, Sida gives particular attention to gender and the role of women in agriculture, including equal access to resources and opportunities needed to increase agricultural production.


The ‘economic and sustainable development’ unit takes the lead on programming within Sida

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the United Nations (UN) Policy Department, the Global Agenda Departments, and the Department for International Development and Cooperation are the main departments that focus on agriculture. The Department for International Development and Cooperation, in particular, coordinates the development of the strategy for Sida, including on agriculture-related topics. Within Sida, besides the geographic departments in charge of country-specific programming, the most relevant unit is the Economic and Sustainable Development Unit in the Department for International Organizations and Policy Support.