UK aid to agriculture in a time of climate change

A review assessing all UK official development assistance (ODA) support to agriculture between 2016 and 2021, with a specific focus on climate change.

Score: Green/Amber
  1. Status: Completed
  2. Published: 28 June 2023
  3. Type: Full review
  4. Subject: Climate change and biodiversity, Research
  5. Assessment: Green/Amber
  6. Location: Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda
  7. Lead commissioner: Tamsyn Barton
  8. SDGs covered:Climate action, Life on land, Zero hunger

Read the review

Read the literature review


This review finds that the UK’s aid to agriculture in a time of climate change has been mainly relevant, with many examples of effective interventions, although it has not been sufficiently coherent.


  • There were many positive examples of UK aid to agriculture through delivery programmes, research and investments, but delivery on climate and nutrition goals varied across the portfolio with some missed opportunities.
  • Until recently, British International Investment (BII) had few incentives to address climate change, nutrition or gender in its investments in agriculture.
  • Prioritising the interests of UK universities rather than those of developing countries or Southern researchers compromised the developmental relevance of BEIS-funded agricultural research. FCDO-funded research, however, was highly relevant and delivered by organisations specialised in research for development impact.
  • ODA budget cuts have also undermined UK’s international influence on agriculture.


  1. The government should ensure that all agriculture programmes and investments have an integral focus on climate change and nature.
  2. All commercial agriculture programmes and investments should be monitored for nutritional outcomes.
  3. The government should act to secure the UK’s influence and thought leadership on agriculture.
  4. FCDO, BII and AgDevCo should look for operational synergies and complementarities between programmes and investments to maximise effectiveness, building on their comparative advantages.
  5. The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and UKRI should integrate learning about development effectiveness, including from previous ICAI reviews, into future ODA-funded agricultural research.


Read the news story


Approach publication

Published 15 February 2023

Evidence gathering


Review publication

Published 28 June 2023

Government response

Published 16 August 2023

Further scrutiny

Follow-up published 16 May 2024