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 official development assistance (ODA). ODA to the sector amounted to US$224 million in 2016, or 5% of Sweden’s total ODA. This is less than the 7% average among member countries of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC). Within the 2016 Aid Policy Framework, agriculture is part of the broader theme of ‘international trade and sustainable investments’, and focuses on small-scale agriculture. It pays particular attention to women, and links agriculture to food security and economic development, as well as to health. There is no dedicated strategy for agriculture specifically; most-relevant documents include the ‘Strategy for sustainable economic development’, and the ‘Strategy for sustainable environment and climate change’.

The Swedish development agency, Sida, focuses on promoting small-scale farming, e.g., by improving equal access to natural resources, investing in infrastructure, improving knowledge about markets, and reforming laws to increase income and employment. Against the backdrop of the 2015-2018 feminist foreign policy, Sida and the government will likely increase their focus on the role of women in agriculture.

Sida focuses on improving the role of women in agriculture

At the 2015 Conference of Parties to the UN climate convention in Paris (COP21), the Swedish government endorsed two initiatives related to agriculture and forestry: the New York Forest Declaration, aimed at reducing global deforestation, restoring degraded forests and ensuring good management of forests, and the ‘4/1,000 Initiative: Soils for Food Security and Climate’, focused on increasing soil carbon storage in agricultural land.

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Sweden channeled 47% of its agriculture and rural development ODA as core contributions to multilateral organizations in 2016 (US$105 million, up from US$97 million in 2015). The largest recipient is the World bank’s International Development Association (IDA), through which Sweden channeled 17% of its total agriculture ODA. Other key recipients of agriculture ODA include the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD; 12%) and European Institutions (10%), and the African Development Fund (AfDF; 5%). Increases in Sweden’s multilateral contributions for agriculture are due to a US$27 million disbursements to IFAD. In parallel, support to the Global Environment Facility is increasing: disbursements are set to go from SEK150 million in 2015 (US$18 million) to SEK427 million in 2016 (US$51 million). Sweden pledged SEK4 billion (US$467 million) for 2016 to 2018.

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Bilateral ODA to agriculture and rural development went from US$94 million in 2015 to US$119 million in 2016. This corresponds to 3% of the country’s total bilateral ODA, well below the DAC average of 7%. 41% of bilateral funding to agriculture went to agricultural development. Other focus areas included agricultural research (17%) and forestry development (10%).


Countries in which agriculture is a priority of Swedish bilateral cooperation:

  • Afghanistan
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Liberia
  • Mozambique
  • Tanzania
  • Uganda
  • Zambia

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

For further details on methodology, see our Donor Tracker Codebook.

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

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the UN Policy Department, the Global Agenda Departments, and the Department for International Development and Cooperation are the main departments that focus on agriculture. The latter coordinates the development of 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.