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Agriculture and food security

The number of people suffering from hunger has increased for many years in a row. The agricultural sector faces major challenges if it is to support a growing population within the limits of the planet. Sida works to ensure that more people can support themselves from farming, forestry and fishing without damaging the environment or fuelling climate change.

Progress has been made

Innovation makes agriculture more productive

Technology and innovation have made global agriculture more productive and more environmentally sustainable throughout the world, for example by disseminating information on modern farming methods and technology for measuring soil quality.

More resilient agriculture

Enormous efforts are being made in many places around the world to make agriculture more sustainable and resilient to climate change. One example of this is agroecology, a way of farming organically with recycling in mind and consideration for animals and plants, that is recommended by the UN Committee on Food Security (CFS).1

Challenges remain

Millions of people suffer from hunger or malnutrition

Hunger and malnutrition have increased the last six years. More and more people are both malnourished and obese at the same time.3

Climate affects and is affected by agriculture

Drought and flooding destroy harvests and threaten people’s livelihoods. Industrial farming is causing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. When animals and plants die, biodiversity is affected.

Inequitable access to land

While women constitute 45 percent of the agricultural workforce in low-income countries, they are far less likely than men to own the land they farm. If women had the same access to resources as men, they would be able to produce 20-30 percent more, which would decrease the number of hungry with 100-150 million.4

Sida works with agriculture and food security

The percentage of the world’s population suffering from food shortages or acute hunger has increased since 2014, and this trend is expected to continue, fuelled by conflicts, climate change and financial crises that have worsened because of the Covid-19-pandemic.5 Communities with already scarce resources and which directly depend on fishing, farming and forestry are especially vulnerable.

According to the UN, the food production will have to increase by 50 % until 2050 to cover the needs.6 Meanwhile, food waste is a big issue. To solve these challenges locally and globally, the world needs more sustainable agriculture, better storage and transports and a reduction of food waste.


According to the World Bank, 65 percent of adults living in poverty support themselves through farming.7 Their cultures, forestry and animal breeding need to function in an efficient and sustainable way to be able to feed a growing world population without damaging the environment.

Supporting sustainable agriculture

Agriculture contributes to climate change in various ways, including deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions. The International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) and the FAO’s Forest Farm Facility (FFF) support smallholders and local communities to reform their own farming and forestry operations to be more sustainable and resilient.

Arable land is rehabilitated

I the Tanganyika province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than half of all households are short of food. Sweden supports the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations´work to rehabilitate farmland in order to ensure the availability of food. The initiative allows vulnerable small-scale farmers to sell their crops, which reduces poverty and the risk of conflict in the region. 

Increased resilience among local farmers

Covid-19 and other crises make more and more people go hungry. 690 million people are estimated to be malnourished and 11 percent of the world population go hungry.8 Oxfam Novib supports indigenous people urfolk and small-scale farmers in Latin America, Africa and Asia. 150 000 households have received support in small-scale sustainable farming that benefits the ecology. It has, among other things, contributed to food security, nutrition and increased resilience to climate change and shocks. In Guatemala and Nepal, local, endemic food plants are cultivated to mitigate a potential food crisis in the tracks of Covid-19.

Oxfam Novib webpage


Conflict, poverty and deteriorating environment have a negative impact on forestry. While forests are important to mitigate climate change, there are still big challenges when it comes to deforestation.

Increases forest area in Thailand

In Thailand, Sweden supports a group of tree planters to follow EU rules against illegal logging and to achieve a sustainable economic development. The trees are an extra source of income that gives members the opportunity to save money and take out loans that can be used to expand the business. The goal is to increase the forest area in Thailand from 32 to 40 percent.

Replanting forest in Asia

An important measure to restore depleted land is to replant forests. Through support to the Africa Forest Forum (AFF), Sida has since the start of the project contributed to almost 50 foresters in 17 countries in West and Central Africa becoming better at producing high quality plants. Thanks to the project, African countries have had more say in international forest negotiations.

AFF webpage

Solves conflicts within forestry

The Regional Community Forestry Training Center for Asia and the Pacific (RECROFT) makes it easier for foresters to participate, engage in dialogue and resolve conflicts that arise in forest management. Since 2018, the project has contributed to the local population cultivating a larger area of ​​forest, from about 8 to just over 12 million hectares. In addition, more households are involved in managing forests, an increase from around 4 to just over 7 million families.

RECROFT webpage


Overfishing, climate change and environmental destruction have a negative impact on the biodiversity of seas, lakes and rivers. The same goes for unsustainable methods of raising fish and mussles.

In lakes and seas, entire fish stocks risk collapsing within a few decades. Thanks to efforts over the past 20 years, protected sea areas have increased by 15 percent. The fact that fishing takes place in a sustainable way is crucial for the millions of people who depend on fishing for their survival.

Making the fisheries sector more open and transparent

Recent decades have seen an increase in industrial fishing, leading to overfishing and threatening many of our fish stocks. Among other things, the World Bank’s PROBLUE multi-donor trust fund supports transparency and fairness in fisheries and aquaculture, so that fishing and coastal communities can exert greater influence over decisions that affect them.

About PROBLUE on the World Bank webpage

Increases knowledge about wetlands and freshwater fishing

The World Bank’s Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP) increases knowledge about the importance of mangrove and wetlands. The partner countries have been given tools to assess how much is being fished and where, as well as resources to manage and create better fishing projects and counteract harmful fishing subsidies. The WorldFish project increases people’s knowledge of the importance of freshwater fishing as a food source, especially for people living in poverty.

About GWSP on the World Bank webpage

Improved fisheries policy

Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing is a major obstacle to initiatives aimed at keeping our oceans healthy. These activities hit local fishing communities hard. Regional organisations the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC) help to gather regional knowledge on which to base fisheries policy.

Rural development

The majority of people living in our partner countries live in the countryside. Sweden supports many projects that contribute to a better life for people living in rural areas.

Rural development reduces violence in Colombia

People who have taken part in armed fighting need support to reintegrate in society. Through the European Trust Fund for Colombia (EUTF), Sweden provides support for some thirty locally based projects for rural development, with a special focus on gender equality, environmental sustainability and strengthening local institutions. We also support a fund that promotes innovative business activities in the worst affected areas. Run by Reconciliatiòn Colombia it helps businesses to increase their production.

Strenghtens women entrepreneurs

In low-income countries, women often have less power over their lives than men. This is especially true in rural areas. Through global support for Rural Women Economic Empowerment (RWEE), Sweden has contributed to 5,400 women in rural areas starting their own businesses, or other activities that provide income, in sectors such as agriculture. 10,000 women have received training in such things as business and financial management, marketing and negotiation techniques.

Scope and governance of Sida’s work with agriculture and food security

In 2020, the Sweden International Development Agency invested SEK 1.3 billion in supporting agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries globally. Of this, 80 percent went to agricultural development, about 20 percent to forestry and less than 1 percent to fishing. Our focus is on small-scale agriculture. Beyond this, SEK 350 million went to  rural development. A large proportion of our research cooperation funding also goes to agricultural research.

Updated: 5 October 2021