Latest Detail [ID: 87]

Better aligning agriculture and aid for trade

Agriculture and aid for trade (AfT) are two key areas of development cooperation that share many synergies and seek similar or the same development objectives; however, there is a lack of coordination between the two areas. This gap widens if the agriculture agenda (as part of Official Development Assistance) and trade agenda of some donor countries are compared.


To enrich the dialogue about this gap, the Donor Platform commissioned a study (for download below) that looks into areas and opportunities to enhance alignment and cooperation between the agriculture and rural development (ARD) and the AfT donor communities. The study was co-written by consultant Paul Engel (Knowledge, Perspectives, Innovation)), Sean Woolfrey (European Centre for Development Policy Management, ECDPM), and Hernán Manson and Blessing Omoaghe (International Trade Centre, ITC), and benefited from substantial inputs by DFAT-Australia, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the Netherlands’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Investmet Fund (EIF), Science and Technology Development Fund (STDF), and USAID.

Four work areas for better alignment

The study’s authors argue that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - particularly SDG 17, but also 1, 2, 8, 9 and 12 - offer an important basis for pursuing better coherence and complementarity between ARD and AfT.

To translate this priority into action, the study identifies four work areas where both ARD and AfT seek to achieve development impact and, thus, offer good opportunities for more collaboration, for example joint planning and design of programmes. These areas are often aligned with exact subjects or specific components of donor programmes and policies:

Four work areas where both ARD and AfT seek to achieve development impact:

(1) Policy, financial, and institutional innovation
(2) Productive capacity building, value chain organization, and articulation
(3) Infrastructure development
(4) Sustainable and inclusive use of available (natural and human) resources.

Dialogue and tweaking development programmes

At a more operational level, the authors suggest two key recommendations:

1. Establishing dialogue and learning-from-practice culture

Donors and development partners that already have more integrated approaches between ARD and AfT (such as ITC, DFAT-Australia, EIF, GAFSP) could regularly share their experience with other donors, discuss the challenges they face, and further investigate and document what does and does not work in these integrated approaches seems for greater development impact´.

2. Making minor shifts in how programmes are designed and implemented

For example, donors could organise ARD-AfT multistakeholder dialogues and develop a joint ARD-AfT agenda and action plan. They could also develop a checklist or score card for assessing policy coherence and complementarity between ARD and AfT in their programmes.

Different perspectives, but seeking exchange

On 13 December 2018, the Donor Platform organised a webinar to share the results of the study and the discussion revealed that while donors do not necessarily share the same perspectives regarding ARD and AfT, they are keen to exchange more and learn from each other.

DFAT-Australia, for example, considers agricultural development aid (and other productive sectors) to be a subset of AfT and not something that is separate or 'opposed' to it. The European Commission does not fully share the same view, though it is interested to find entry points for better ARD-AfT collaboration at the operational level and suggests the use of territorial approaches for this purpose. 

DFID also expressed interest in such an alignment. It has several programmes on value chain development, which could 'capitalise' on joining efforts (and budgets) with AfT programmes.


Go back