Missing out on small is beautiful

The EU’s failure to deliver on policy commitments to support smallholder agriculture in developing countries

Publication date: 3 July 2017
Author: Jan Mayrhofer, Hanna Saarinen

With the world on the brink of an unprecedented four famines, donor countries must urgently step up efforts to tackle the structural causes of hunger and poverty. Food security and sustainable agriculture are among the European Union’s key priorities for development cooperation. The EU is committed to long-term solutions, including empowering smallholders, in particular women, and supporting environmentally sustainable approaches in agriculture. In practice, however, its development aid to the agricultural sector does not live up to its commitments.

An Oxfam analysis of more than 7,500 EU-funded projects reveals a significant lack of transparency in reporting, casting doubt on the accountability of the EU’s aid. Based on the reported data, only a small portion of the EU’s agricultural development aid complies with the aim of targeting small-scale producers and women. Funding is also biased towards industrial and export crops and countries of strategic interest, at the expense of smallholders and countries most in need.