What Works in Youth and Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition

What Works in Youth in Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition?

“As important as it is for African countries to transform their economies, even under the most optimistic policy scenarios, only about 25 percent of African youth can expect to get any kind of wage job in the near future – casual or formal – and most of these won’t be in manufacturing. The other 75 percent will have to make their own jobs in agriculture and household enterprises. …  Africa still imports a lot of food, and prices are high. With the right policies and programs, Africa's agriculture sector could meet regional and global demand, as well as provide the inputs to a growing agribusiness sector. Youth can be part of this agriculture renaissance, but they need access to land, to inputs and know-how, to markets, and to finance”. (Louise Fox and Deon Filmer).
 
As pointed out in the following report, the prevailing sentiment regarding youth is that they are not interested in agriculture; they want white-collar jobs in urbanized environments using technology; and they need money fast. These assumptions about “youth in agriculture” make it more challenging to implement successful youth engagement programs.
 
Many models for youth engagement exist. Ultimately the most powerful model for harnessing the energy of youth to change the course of their incomes and futures lies in reinforcing youth as a crosscutting theme as identified in the USAID Youth in Development Policy. The following resources outline some of the successful models and approaches to positive youth development and youth engagement in agriculture.

Youth Engagement in Agricultural Value Chains Across Feed the Future: A Synthesis Report

The report assessed 13 FtF programs, carried out field visits to four countries and held Focus Group Discussions with 384 youth aged 10-40. The bulk of the report is derived from the four country site visits. The key objective of the assessment was to determine what specific agriculture value chain activities have the capacity to absorb youth and transform their futures. It seeks to understand how youth can most effectively be mainstreamed into the agriculture sector in line with USAID's 2012 Youth in Development Policy. In each country the assessment team asked "what innovative approaches and entry points have resulted in improvements in youth skills and opportunities; has youth engagement in agriculture filled unmet needs; and have upgrades in specific value chains opened new opportunities for youth employment and engagement?
Comments:
This excellent, timely and succinct report is highly recommended reading for anyone involved in developing approaches to mainstreaming youth in agriculture. It provides insightful analysis and actionable ideas about how to address the issue of youth as a cross-sectoral issue from a programmatic perspective.
 
Youth and Agriculture in Uganda: An Assessment
The assessment describes Uganda's youth labor market, youth attitudes towards agriculture, access to productive assets and then considers them in light of value chains (coffee and maize) and how youth could be targeted. The assessment also addresses civic engagement, education and business skills development.
Comments:
This is an important document because it marks a more explicit attempt by USAID to examine agriculture from a youth perspective and to build the case for harnessing the "youth dividend" in ways that help to rebrand agriculture as a business and make it more appealing to youth as a career choice by focusing on human, financial, physical add social capital. This assessment should be read together with Section C (Statement of Work) of the USAID/Uganda Youth Leadership for Agriculture Project (January 8 2015 SOL -617-15-000005). The Statement of Work effectively synthesizes the key points from the assessment and applies them to a project context that links youth, agriculture and productive employment.

Africa Agriculture Status Report 2015: Youth in Agriculture
The report analyses employment and self-employment challenges for youth in the agricultural sector focused on productivity, entrepreneurship, inclusive finance, ICT, capacity building and policy.  The report is recent and right on target in terms of key questions it addresses and that are posed by USAID and Feed the Future, how to: 1) improve targeting of youth in agriculture with appropriate information and technologies; 2) highlight areas where investments in agriculture can make a difference among youth; 3) make agriculture more attractive to youth and 4) devise ways of retaining youth who are already in agriculture. It profiles 1) SNV’s Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) program as a way to strengthen value chains by addressing unmet market demands through skill development and links with private sector and financial service providers and 2) TechnoServe’s Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) project as a model that is being adapted by governments, TVETs and CBOs.
Comments:
This report is well worth reading. It provides a rich evidence base and goes into more detail than many other studies, for example, about factors motivating youth to leave agriculture. It cites, for example, the correlation between higher education levels for household heads with lower participation in agriculture in several countries but notes the opposite in Ethiopia, where the study suggests that all land being state-owned and land access guaranteed, plus a high rural population, may be variables resulting in higher participation rates for more educated people. On land tenure, it notes a study in Uganda that revealed that about 70% of youth-headed households use land under customary tenure and only 19% have exclusive land ownership rights under freehold which acts as a disincentive to youth wanting to invest in land, build a family home, etc. The report is rich in such specific data. Chapter 3 on Agribusiness and youth is especially good.

Youth and Agriculture: Key Challenges and Concrete Solutions
Cases were selected from those submitted by over 1400 entities to illustrate workable evidence-based approaches to youth in agriculture, e.g., youth agricultural resource centers, rebranding agriculture in schools, a youth venture capital fund, green jobs, certifying youth social businesses and includes some examples from Europe and the US.
Comments:
Each case study provides a link for more information. Each set of case studies is followed by summary of conclusions/lessons. Valuable reference document for those seeking new ideas; evidence of specific activities that have worked; and where to go to seek more information about each example.
 
The Private Sector and Youth Skills Employment and Programs
The report is a rare detailed effort to link private sector perspectives with public sector policy objectives around shared interests in youth skills development, employment, productivity and poverty reduction. It examines market and government  initiatives, patterns of private sector involvement in youth skills training, entrepreneurship promotion, employment services and the effects of wage subsidies. It examines factors that promote and constrain PPPs and offers an agenda for further research.
Comments:
This thoughtful and engaging study is a key document for those promoting PPP, private sector engagement with youth for improved employment outcomes and considering design options to appeal to private sector actors.

Youth Employment Opportunities Rising in African Agrifood Systems
This study examines the potential of sub-Sahara Africa's agrifood system to provide new jobs for youth, identifies constraints and pursues two analytical tracks: 1) a "strategic policy and foresighting analysis" to examine economic mega-trends and how changes in farm structure and dietary habits will affect youth job prospects and 2) an agrifood landscape analysis that examines the economic and policy environment affecting youth engagement with agrifood systems. The study also distills best practices and lessons learned related to youth economic programming. Three job categories were examined: on-farm, off-farm agrifood sector, and off-farm non-agrifood sector jobs. The study is well-documented and includes numerous tables with data to reinforce the analysis.
Comments:
The report's tag line is apt: "New study reveals potential and challenges of expanding youth opportunities in the agricultural sector." It identifies the usual constraints (land, capital, skills etc.) and reaches the following conclusions: 1) labor is moving sharply out of agriculture (in Rwanda and Tanzania but not Nigeria) yet farming remains vital for livelihoods, 2) off-farm agrifood systems are growing rapidly but they start from a smaller base so farms still create the most jobs absolutely, and 3) the 25-34 year old cohort is "significantly less likely to engage in farming than those aged 15-24 in all three countries" The study also found that Rwanda's rapid growth could be attributed in part to sound agricultural economic policies while Tanzania's growth was mostly in urban areas. The study also states that "agriculture is widely perceived by youth as an unappealing traditional labor intensive farm activity and goes on to cite the challenges posed to reach out-of-school youth, align skills and labor market needs and develop SMEs. The report makes 12 recommendations: more research; focus on and off farm; stress value chains esp. food processing and horticulture; develop comprehensive youth employment strategies; change youth perceptions; more ICT; more training in agrifoods; more private sector; more experiential learning; institutionalize M&E; ensure SME clusters have access to current training, technologies and market information; mainstream gender and youth "in all programmatic interventions." The recommendations are similar to those made in many other reports but the advantage of this MSU document is the depth and detail of the data that support the findings. 
 
Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa
This broad assessment on youth employment considers the full range of issues (e.g., education, health, civic engagement) and places agriculture in context as a key opportunity for youth income growth. It reviews land policies, constraints on capital and skills, advocates a stronger educational foundation and asserts that current programs deliver too little too slowly to meet youth aspirations.
Comments:
This study has a solid chapter on youth in agriculture that builds on the Bank's June 2013 Policy Paper 6473, Agriculture, A Sector of Opportunity for Youth. The chapters on financial inclusion and household enterprises are relevant to smallholders, a major target group for Feed the Future.