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Supporting the agriculture sector and enhacing food security in Latin America and the Caribbean

The Bank has a long history of providing support to the agricultural sector and helping improve competitiveness among farmers as well as foster food security in Latin America and the Caribbean. Since 1961, the Bank has approved over US$16 billion in loan operations for the sector, accounting for about 9 percent of its loan portfolio.

Between 1994 and 2008, under the mandate for the Bank’s Eighth General Capital Increase, the agricultural projects backed by the IDB improved the livelihoods of about 3.2 million families in Latin America and the Caribbean. Moreover, the IDB improved conditions of 484,666 ha of agricultural land in the region through irrigation and drainage projects.

In 2007, the IDB began a new strategy to improve the food security situation in the region, by supporting actions to stimulate the supply of food, with particular emphasis on the countries of Central America, the Caribbean, and the Andean Sub-region. As a result, the Bank boosted financing to agriculture projects to over $1 billion in 2010 from about $305 million in 2007, including loans, grants and technical assistance.

The IDB has supported the following actions in the agricultural sector in the region:

  • Foster policy dialogue with governments to support optimal mechanisms to improve profitability for domestic producers, create favorable incentives to private investment, and foster an efficient and effective public expenditure on agriculture.
  • Investment in research and development services, agricultural health, land titling and registration, information, institutional strengthening
  • Integration of small and medium producers to supply chains and access to dynamic markets;
  • Investments in productive infrastructure in terms of irrigation, rural roads, electrification and communications;
  • Transfer of resources for income maintenance, adoption of improved technology or management.

Despite the region’s progress in improving economic conditions in the agriculture sector and food security in recent years, challenges still remain, particularly in small countries with limited availability of land and among the poorest in society, who spend at least half of their income on food. Agriculture in the region still suffers from a slow productivity growth, almost two-thirds of the rural population still lives in poverty and the sector is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

To meet these challenges, the IDB will be increasing investments in the sector in coming years. Under the agreement approved in July 2010 for the Bank’s 9th capital increase, IDB investments in the agriculture in the region are expected to provide at least 5 million farmers with improved access to agriculture services and investments by 2015.


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