Why Engage Youth
Youth are already contributors on family farms, in livestock husbandry, in processing and transport, and as part of household livelihoods strategies. Young men and boys are often responsible for herding livestock,using tools, operating machines, spraying chemicals, transporting goods to market, and preparing land. Young women and girls may be in charge of collecting water, raising small animals (e.g. poultry), tending household gardens, petty trading, and selling and processing fish, as well as selling and processing horticulture at local markets. However, many of these are subsistence level activities and are unpaid; therefore, there is an opportunity to upgrade and expand the contributions of young women and men within households as well as across agriculture and food systems. Young people make important contributions to Feed the Future objectives and goals, including:
- Contributing their entrepreneurial talents to value chain upgrading
- Engaging in mixed livelihoods strategies that contribute to household resilience
- Acting as early adopters of new technologies that contribute to food systems resilience
Youth inclusion magnifies Feed the Future outcomes by tapping into young men and women as actors in inclusive and sustainable agriculture-led economic growth (GFSS Objective 1).
Young men and women represent a large proportion of the population in both Feed the Future countries and rural areas generally. In fact, youth populations are expanding in the developing world and are entering the labor market in large numbers; worldwide, an estimated over 11 million new jobs are needed every year in order to meet the growing workforce.
Working-age youth are important contributors to household livelihoods and resilience (GFSS Objective 2).
Livelihoods approaches that focus only on heads of households often overlook the earning potential of the youth family members who also contribute to household earnings and savings. Research suggests that among the sources of resilience, youth economic empowerment—including human capital development (training and education), financial literacy and money management, building business skills and professional networks, and livelihood risk diversification into non-farm and off-farm labor activities—helps protect households from shocks.
Youth employment can contribute to a well-nourished population, especially of young women and children (GFSS Objective 3).
Optimal maternal and child nutrition is critical for physical and cognitive development, especially during the 1,000-day window of opportunity from pregnancy to a child’s second birthday. Given sufficient opportunity, including access to education, work, and empowerment, adolescent girls can contribute to improved nutrition and food security in their households and communities and become key contributors to the social and economic advancement of their countries. More broadly, good nutrition continues to play an important role in helping to keep youth—both boys and girls—healthy.
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