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$523 million in 2020, making Sweden the sixth-largest DAC donor in absolute terms. In relative terms, Sweden spent 8% of its total ODA on agriculture and rural development. This puts it above the DAC average of 6%, earning Sweden the fifth rank among Donor Assistance Committee (DAC) donors in relative terms, up from the 23rd rank in 2019. Sweden’s funding to agriculture has steadily increased in recent years and witnessed a sharp increase in 2020 when it rose by about 77%, compared to 2019.  

However, Sweden’s agriculture ODA in 2020 is most likely an overestimation due to the full inclusion of Sweden’s multi-year contribution (US$869 million) to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), part (US$241 million) of which is imputed to the agricultural sector and therefore resulting in a sharp increase in Swedish multilateral ODA to the sector. In total, US$341 million, or 65%, of Sweden’s agriculture ODA was channeled as core contributions to multilateral organizations (DAC average: 47%). Other key multilateral partners besides the GCF in 2020 were EU institutions, the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the African Development Fund (ADF), and the Adaptation Fund. 

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$51 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 the sustainability of natural resources and expand equity, as well as the well-being of people in low-income countries. Meanwhile, CRP FISH seeks to improve productivity and access to fish by those most in need to reduce poverty, as well as enhance food and nutrition security through sustainable aquaculture and resilient small-scale fisheries. 

While Sweden’s total agriculture ODA saw a sharp increase in 2020, its bilateral disbursements to the sector decreased fell, reaching US$182 million (from US$194 million in 2019). Sweden’s bilateral funding to agriculture remained focused mainly on agricultural development (32% of bilateral agriculture funding), rural development (22%), and agricultural research (16%).  

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 the role of women in agriculture and highlights the connections between agriculture, food security, and economic development, as well as to health. Agricultural research also receives considerable attention in the policies guiding Sweden’s agricultural development activities. There is no dedicated strategy for agriculture; the most relevant policy documents are the ‘Strategy for sustainable economic development 2018-2022,’ and the ‘Strategy for sustainable environment and climate change 2018-2022.’ 

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 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.