Enhanced agricultural growth and productivity are essential if we are to meet the worldwide demand for food and reduce poverty, particularly in the poorest developing countries. Between 1998 and 2008, the period covered by this evaluation, the World Bank Group provided $23.7 billion in financing for agriculture and agribusiness in 108 countries (roughly 8 percent of total World Bank Group financing), spanning areas from irrigation and marketing to research and extension. This was, however, a time of declining focus on agricultural growth and productivity by both countries and donors.
The cost of inadequate attention to agriculture, especially in agriculture-based economies, came into focus with the food crisis of 2007–08. The crisis added momentum to an emerging renewal of attention and stepped-up financing to agriculture and agribusiness at the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC), as well as at several multilateral and bilateral agencies. World Bank financing rose two and a half times from 2008 to 2009, although this increased lending seems to have been accompanied by a decline in analytical work, which this review finds valuable in achieving results. This evaluation seeks to provide lessons from successes and failures in the Bank Group’s activities in the sector to help improve the development impact of the renewed attention. More >