Photo: Johan Fogde Dias

Sida concieved of the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative in 2008 in order to lay the foundation for more effective development cooperation in the area of poverty reduction through sustainable agricultural production. This decision was made against the backdrop of decades of percieved neglect of this crucial sector for overall sustainable development. A shift from concrete and practical interventions to more abstract levels of engagement in areas such as human rights and democracy had lead to agriculture loosing some of its status within the Swedish as well as International development community. 

Nevertheless, there is an extensive competence base with a diverse array of skills amongst Swedish stakeholders. This competence within agriculture is located with a larger number of actors than ever before. However, there is a challenge in appreciating and accepting different perspectives, experiences and knowledge in relation to agriculture, and many current structures are not encouraging flexible policy processes to influence or lead change and implementation.

The inception phase of SIANI took place in 2009. A wide range of stakeholders were consulted during an inception workshop, which resulted in the SIANI Inception Report. Activities began in 2010 and over that year the secretariat grew to include two full-time and one part-time staff members as well as students doing internships. Attached to the Secretariat is an Advisory Group consisting of representatives from the Swedish government, NGO:s, multilateral agencies, academia and the private sector.