This paper, based on research conducted in the framework of the project TISD (Transformative Investment for Sustainable Development) which brings together key development actors to contribute to the French, European and global conversation on development financing around particular key sectors, identifies the conditions of success of national programmes—a number of which were partly supported by official development assistance (ODA)—aimed at developing political ecosystems conducive to sustainable agricultural practices, and derives recommendations for ODA providers.


  • ODA programmes supporting policy planning should focus on the development of practical and detailed agricultural development policies establishing clear priorities, both for long-term objectives and step-by-step courses of action. Backcasting is a useful approach to frame such policies and establish the links between long-term objectives and courses of action, targeting specific subsectors, areas and agricultural models.
  • Assisting policy development processes without supporting local collective action processes will fail to achieve results. It is important to provide all communities with appropriate resources to organise themselves and interact with others communities, and especially producers’ organisations or farmers’ cooperatives that have proven difficult to set up in developing contexts. More efforts need to be directed towards (i) ensuring the existence of a political will to foster the development of such institutional arrangements through national dialogues, and (ii) developing more adapted ODA financial tools (such as smaller tickets) directly targeting grassroots organisations.
  • There is no silver bullet for designing effective agricultural development programmes. Stakeholders engaged in agricultural development, from both public and private spheres, need virtual and real knowledge exchange platforms to meet and discuss the initiatives, programmes and projects they have implemented in their own countries, as well as the outcomes. ODA should support the development of such learning platforms.
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