Financial resource flows to agriculture: A review of data on government spending, official development assistance and foreign direct investment

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ESA Working paper No. 11-19

Sarah K. Lowder and Brian Carisma


This paper reviews four international datasets and one regional dataset which allow us to consider the magnitude of and trends in government spending on, official development assistance (ODA) to and foreign direct investment (FDI) in agriculture, forestry and fishing and, in some cases, other relevant sectors. These datasets represent the most current and comprehensive data available on resource flows to agriculture. Two of the datasets have not yet been made freely available to the public. Although the existing data do not permit consideration of several important issues, they do allow us to better understand trends in resource flows to agriculture and we are able to draw some conclusions including the following.

Spending on agriculture is mainly financed through domestic sources of finance (levels of government spending are larger than ODA and FDI). For developing countries as a whole, the three types of spending on agriculture (total levels and levels per population working in agriculture) have increased. Although increases have been recorded for FDI, we find some evidence that FDI may have increased less than previously claimed. Trends in indicators of government spending on, ODA to and FDI in agriculture are discouraging for Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper concludes with suggestions of areas for future research.