Given the growing youth populations in sub-Saharan Africa and the state of economic livelihoods in the region, the agriculture sector — and particularly on-farm production — offers great potential for alleviating unemployment and underemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the near term, self-employment in the informal sector will likely present the greatest opportunity for generating youth employment, particularly in low-income countries.
Young men and women are engaged in the agri-food system in a variety of ways — through formal and informal wage work, unpaid family labor, self-employment, and cooperative membership — and across all levels of the value chain. Overall, youth earn “mixed livelihoods” from various sources — on-farm, off-farm, and non-farm — and with self-employment and migration playing particularly important roles. While there is some evidence that youth are not attracted to agriculture and are leaving the sector, the absolute numbers of youth who are dependent on farming or livestock production is likely to increase because of population growth. Youth tend to favor modern agriculture practices, use of technology, and opportunities for “quick money” with relatively higher returns than staple crops. Youth decisions to engage in agriculture work are also shaped by the environment in which they live: the economic and political context, social norms and customs, the nature of the agri-food system, institutions, laws and regulations, parental and peer influence, media, previous experiences, and gender relations.
Overall, the literature consistently agrees that the top three key constraints to youth engagement in agriculture are access to land, finance, and skills. While there is some debate about whether these structural barriers are specific to youth (as older populations are marginalized in the same ways), youth- and gender-specific issues appear in each of these areas. In terms of solutions, skills development initiatives have been shown to have positive impacts on youth employment and earnings outcomes; skills transfer in the agriculture sector has effectively occurred in work-based learning venues such as farmer field schools, on-site employer-based training, internships, volunteer opportunities, and co-curricular youth organizations. In finance, effective interventions have promoted the bankability of youth enterprises, financial literacy and savings among youth, and the capacity of loan officers. Promising youth and land interventions have strengthened youth organizations and participation in land policymaking processes, supported education and awareness-raising activities for youth to understand their land rights, and strengthened youth access to legal services to recognize and defend land rights.
Youth and agriculture programming presents a unique opportunity for gender transformation, as adolescence is a pivotal time of life in which young men and women form gender norms. While there is a growing body of work on women’s empowerment in agri-food systems, the literature generally does not distinguish between different age cohorts or life stages (e.g. head of household, child/parental status, marital status, etc.). Also, women’s empowerment approaches tend to overlook the needs of and pressures faced by adolescent males who are coming of age in the agriculture sector.
Drawing from this evidence base, future research must acknowledge the diversity of different youth segments and their interactions in the agri-food system. There is also a need for comparative analysis of youth-inclusive interventions against traditional agriculture approaches so as to better understand the benefits of a youth-inclusive approach. Finally, policymakers must avoid a one-size-fits-all solution by distinguishing between long-term approaches (employment through on-farm productivity) and short-term approaches (youth self-employment and entrepreneurship), as well as “demand-side” versus “supply-side” solutions, tailored to the specific context of the country and its agri-food system, the local context and its stakeholders, and the target youth segments.
This page is divided into the following sections:
Given the rising youth populations in sub-Saharan Africa and the state of un- and under-employment in the region, the agriculture sector—and particularly on-farm production—offers the greatest potential for alleviating unemployment and underemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although African countries are experiencing higher rates of employment growth in non-farm sectors, agriculture will continue to be the largest source of employment on the continent due to base employment figures. Moreover, on-farm productivity is the key to harnessing growth in off-farm employment. The research also suggests that because growth in Africa is unlikely to keep up with the pace of new labor market entrants, self-employment in the informal sector will likely present the greatest opportunity for generating youth employment in the near term, particularly in low-income countries. To that end, programs attempting to address youth unemployment in low-income economies should focus on the structural constraints to job creation, namely on-farm productivity as well as self-employment in the informal sector.
Increases in farm-level productivity are key to job creation and economic transformation in Africa. This research examines nationally representative data from nine African countries, showing three key findings: a general decline in farming’s share of employment over the past decade; a strong relationship between lagged farm productivity growth and the speed at which the share of the labor force in farming declines; and the moderate potential for agro-processing or other stages of the food system to absorb youth into gainful employment in the coming years. While employment in agro-processing is growing rapidly in percentage terms, its share of overall employment is quite low and will not generate nearly as many new jobs as on-farm production.
This study examines the potential of Sub-Saharan Africa’s agrifood systems to provide new jobs for unemployed, underemployed and disadvantaged youth. First, it analyzes economic mega-trends for Rwanda, Tanzania and Nigeria and projects how economic changes will affect future job prospects for rural and urban African youth. The major findings are that the off-farm agri-food system is growing very rapidly in percentage terms, and that labor is moving sharply out of farming as those countries’ economies transform. However, off-farm activities will not match production activities in the absolute level of new job creation for at least 10 years. As such, on-farm production will remain extremely important for livelihoods and economic growth. Secondly, the study examines the economic and policy environment affecting youth engagement with the agri-food system, assesses the skills gaps between labor supply and market demand, and distills best practices and lessons learned related to youth economic programming, presenting a set of recommendations for youth-related programming in Rwanda, Tanzania and Nigeria.
This report summarizes the evidence and discussion presented at a May 2016 USAID Feed the Future Youth & Employment Roundtable Symposium, with a focus on the relationship between youth livelihoods and the development of food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Population trends, labor trends, opportunities and constraints to youth entrepreneurship, and skills required by the agri-food system are discussed. Recommendations focus on investments in agricultural productivity growth as a means to generate the multiplier effects that expand off-farm jobs, as well as investments in education and skills development.
Failing Young People? Addressing the Supply-Side Bias and Individualisation in Youth Employment Programming
This report critiques some of the predominant models for getting young people into work, namely “the supply-side bias built into the majority of approaches,” and aims to advance models that address demand-side and structural constraints. The report also argues against currently adopted models that are narrowly economic and individualistic in their approach, acknowledging that young people’s decisions and trajectories regarding work are shaped by social values, positions and expectations, as well as by their social relationships and immediate political contexts. Consequently, the report argues that policies need to better reflect the real constraints, opportunities and forces that shape young people’s engagement with work.
This paper outlines the economic development challenges that constrain youth’s transition into employment, and it parses the evidence on which programs and policies appear to speed that transition. It outlines the typology of employment challenges in three categories: transforming economies, non-transforming economies, and “stalled transforming” economies. It also summarizes the lessons from impact evaluations that discuss which interventions lead to job creation in both wage-based employment and self-employment. The paper concludes by calling for a long-term economic transformation agenda for low- and lower-middle-income countries.
This policy paper explores the potential for job creation in the agriculture sector to harness the youth dividend in Sub-Saharan Africa. It explores the characteristics of youth engagement in agriculture, presents the three major constraints to youth agriculture employment — acquisition of capital, land, and skills — and offers an array of solutions in each of these three areas.
Increased productivity in the agriculture sector is key to addressing youth unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa and can lead to higher earnings as well as to more stable, less vulnerable livelihoods. This extensive policy report examines obstacles faced by households and firms in meeting the youth employment challenge. It focuses on agriculture productivity, non-farm household enterprises, and wage-based employment. The report identifies specific areas in which government intervention can reduce obstacles to productivity for agriculture, including increasing access to finance, land, and extension services.
As part of the International Food Policy Research Institute’s 2012 Global Food Policy Report, this chapter presents the policy challenges associated with the agriculture sector as a source of meaningful jobs for the growing number of young people in Africa. It describes four employment options for youth: (1) Youth remaining on family holdings, (2) Youth seeking off-farm opportunities, (3) Youth establishing new holdings, and (4) Youth taking on formal or informal on- or off-farm wage work. The paper also suggests how policymakers can address critical constraints in access to financial services, land, education, and modern skills within those four employment pathways.
This discussion paper, an input to discussions on Rural Youth Employment in the G20 Development Working Group, presents a broad spectrum of action areas for consideration by G20 countries to promote the level and quality of jobs in rural areas in developing countries. It discusses the rationale for focusing on rural youth employment, as well as opportunities for youth in farming, across food systems, and in non-food-related activities. It then explores solutions for increasing rural youth employment, highlighting the need for youth participation in policy dialogue and program design. The paper also details effective “demand-side” and “supply-side” interventions.
Young men and women are engaged in the agri-food system in a variety of ways — through formal and informal wage work, unpaid family labor, self-employment, and cooperative membership — and across all levels of the value chain. Overall, youth earn “mixed livelihoods” from various sources — on-farm, off-farm, and non-farm — and with self-employment and migration playing particularly important roles. While there is some debate that youth are not attracted to agriculture and are leaving the sector, the evidence paints a nuanced picture. Some countries are indeed experiencing trends of youth turning away from agriculture and/or working fewer hours per week in agriculture than older age groups; however, the absolute numbers of youth who are dependent on farming or livestock production is likely to increase because of population growth. Primary data across multiple countries confirms that youth are not attracted to low-wage, low-value production, and are instead attracted to modernization/ new practices, use of technology, and opportunities for “quick money” with relatively higher earnings than staple crops. Youth decisions to engage in work are also shaped by the environment in which they live: the economic and political context, social norms and customs, the nature of the agri-food system, institutions, laws and regulations, parental and peer influence, media, previous experiences, and gender relations.
Overall, the literature consistently agrees that the top three key constraints to youth engagement in agriculture are access to land, finance, and skills. While there is some debate about whether these structural barriers are specific to youth (as older populations are marginalized in the same ways), youth- and gender-specific issues appear in each of these areas. The agriculture sector writ large is characterized by a number of structural barriers, and these barriers are often more pronounced for specific subgroups, including youth who experience vulnerability across multiple fronts. Broadly speaking across all constraints, there is a need for youth engagement in collective action and advocacy for agriculture policy.
More evidence is needed on youth participation in agri-food systems, and especially the benefits of taking a youth mainstreaming and/or youth-focused approach to agri-food systems development. Future research must also acknowledge the diversity of different youth segments and the different contexts in which they operate. To this end, policymakers must avoid a one-size-fits-all solution, distinguishing between long-term approaches (employment through on-farm productivity) versus short-term approaches (youth self-employment and entrepreneurship), as well as “demand-side” versus “supply-side” solutions, tailored to the specific context of the country and its agri-food system, the local context and its stakeholders, and the target youth segments.
This seminal report summarizes the findings from a joint, global Mouvement international de la jeunesse agricole et rurale catholique (MIJARC/IFAD/FAO) project on Facilitating Access to Agricultural Activities for Rural Youth. It identifies six challenges with respect to increasing rural youth’s participation in the agriculture sector:  access to knowledge, information and education;  access to land;  access to financial services;  access to green jobs;  access to markets; and  engagement in policy dialogue. Youth-specific aspects are presented for each challenge, as are case studies that illustrate how each challenge may be overcome.
This desk review examines the research on young people’s engagement with agriculture in Malawi, Ethiopia, and Kenya. It finds that while there are trends of youth turning away from agriculture, the absolute numbers of youth who are dependent on farming or livestock production is likely to increase because of population growth. It also seeks to validate the theories of change for youth rejection of agriculture, which are: (1) structural issues within the agricultural sector/agrarian economy; (2) increases in education and rising youth aspirations; and (3) a lack of youth awareness of the opportunities offered by the agriculture sector. Overall, the causal links for all three hypotheses are not well supported by evidence. The review finds strong evidence for research, technology, and productivity as determinants for youth engagement, as well as access to land. However, these variables, as well as the chains of explanation, are not necessarily youth-specific, and “there is a strong argument that until and unless the deep structural issues that are at the heart of these chains are addressed successfully, much of the more youth-specific programming will remain largely irrelevant.”
This report provides an in-depth analysis of barriers and challenges youth face to gain secure and sustainable employment or self-employment in the agricultural sector. It also provides insight into opportunities, experiences, good practices and emerging innovations and concludes with forward-looking recommendations. The report contributes to the growing body of knowledge on youth employment in agriculture with a specific focus on agricultural productivity, entrepreneurship, inclusive finance, information and communications technology (ICT), capacity-building, and policy.
This conference paper investigates the extent of youth engagement in agriculture in six African countries using data from the Living Standards Measurement Surveys-Integrated Surveys on Agriculture (LSMS-ISA). The analysis suggests that youth work fewer hours per week in agriculture in select countries than the older age groups, with strong correlations between age and hours worked in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Malawi, a weaker correlation in Niger and Uganda, and an insignificant correlation in Ethiopia. Other important correlates of hours worked per week in agriculture include education, gender, rural residence, wealth index, farm size per capita, land ownership, and livestock ownership.
This primary research explores the attitudes of young people and their families to farming within the context of price volatility, drawing from qualitative data from interviews conducted with around 1,500 people across 10 countries. It uncovers four major determinants that shape youth expectations and aspirations in agriculture: (1) Perceived risks of agriculture production vs. benefits in light of price increases from the producer side; (2) Access to land; (3) Youth access to inputs, including input subsidies (and the degree to which access is influenced by higher commodity prices); and (4) The relative attraction of formal sector cash incomes when youth consumers experience increases in the cost of living.
This issue paper discusses why young people are not attracted to agriculture and presents short case studies of initiatives being taken to encourage youth to consider careers in agriculture. The discussion represents the results of a literature review coupled with national consultations and participatory research conducted by Asian Farmers’ Association (AFA) members in nine countries involving 660 rural youth, and regional consultations with 17 national farmer organizations in 13 countries.
This article considers the question of young people’s aspirations in agriculture, acknowledging the diversity that exists across different rural youth segments. Using the case of the cocoa sub-sector in Ghana, it analyzes how the differences in young people’s backgrounds and experiences with cocoa influence their expectations of the role of cocoa farming in their future.
In Uganda, there is great potential value in developing youth participation in agriculture value chains, namely through continued expansion of agricultural modernization alongside increased public and private attention to an upgraded workforce development system. This assessment report provides an overview of agricultural growth in Uganda and identifies opportunities for developing youth leadership, skills, and livelihoods. Drawing from a desk review of 90+ secondary sources, interviews with 50+ key informants, and 24 focus group discussions with 400 youth ages 15 to 25, concrete project-level recommendations are provided.
This report explores the diverse livelihoods of rural young people age 18-24 in Uganda and Ghana. Those individuals undertake a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihoods. Agriculture production is central to rural youth livelihoods, but agricultural incomes are meager. Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic. Entrepreneurship (self-employment) remains an important economic activity. The research found that mixed livelihoods allow for risk mitigation and help to maximize young people’s economic opportunities within vulnerable geographic areas; mixed livelihoods are therefore a logical choice and may be the most economically viable course of action for many disadvantaged rural young people in Africa.
This discussion paper reviews existing research on youth aspirations, expectations and life choices. It describes the dynamic processes through which aspirations are formed, shaped and influenced by economic context, social norms and customs, parental and peer influence, media, previous attainment, and gender relations. The paper then links these considerations to the agrarian context of sub-Saharan Africa. The paper concludes with a series of tentative hypotheses about youth aspirations, how they link to outcomes in the rural African context, and the implications for agricultural policy and practice.
This paper presents young people’s experiences of growing up in Ghana’s cocoa belt and identifies key barriers to their involvement in the sector. The paper also highlights opportunities to promote youth participation in cocoa farming. Based on findings from focus group discussions with youth ages 15-25 in the cocoa-growing belt and from key informant interviews, the key issues raised are access to land, finance, and skills development, as well as perceptions of the cocoa sector, particularly among women.
This paper explores the realities of young people’s livelihoods and their transition to adulthood in rural northern Uganda. It seeks to shed light on how and why young people find employment in the agriculture sector, describing the transitions that young people experience from childhood into adulthood while growing up on a farm. It also provides a general overview of the agriculture sector in northern Uganda, highlighting the obstacles youth face and the opportunities available to them. Among the findings and recommendations, the report identifies three priority areas for increasing productivity and youth engagement: improved skills training, tailored financial services and warrantage schemes for youth, and more youth-targeted programs, policies, and services.
This article uses the example of small-scale, labor-intensive tomato production in Brong Ahafo, Ghana, to explore youth engagement in the agri-food sector in Africa. It emphasizes the heterogeneity of youth and that their patterns of youth farming vary “from short-term involvement in small-scale, labor-intensive commercial farming or agri-business activities, to lifelong but fluid and shifting engagement with different crops and types of production.” It calls for policymakers to acknowledge these different scenarios and not think about the issue as a single “youth in agriculture problem.”
Rural Transformation, Cereals and Youth in Africa: What Role for International Agriculture Research?
This article argues for a more nuanced understanding of the youth-specific issues associated with agriculture transformation, and a need to differentiate how various youth segments engage in the agriculture sector based on structural constraints. It puts forth a framework through which to analyze young people’s abilities to exploit opportunities within the agriculture sector. The case of staple cereals illustrates the nuances of young people’s engagement with agri-food systems, based on the interplay between the macro context, local context, and social structures. The article also identifies key areas for additional research, highlighting themes of structural considerations, youth specificity, differentiation, and youth relationships and networks.
“Distress migration is particularly acute among rural youth. Agriculture and rural development are central to the rate of rural out-migration to urban areas. The agricultural sector needs to engage youth in order to increase global food production. In doing so, agricultural transformation can balance out-migration from rural areas and thus contribute to stable growth.
This document presents the conceptual framework for distress migration of rural youth. The framework focuses on the migration of rural youth (ages 15–24), who account for a large proportion of migrants and are a particularly vulnerable group. The framework comprises three sections: 1) Analysis of the main factors determining the propensity of rural youth to migrate; 2) Assessment of the likely impacts of distress migration of rural youth in terms of rural development for local areas of origin; 3) Illustration of the most promising policies and programmes to reduce distress migration of rural youth and maximize developmental benefits for the communities of origin.” Based on available evidence, it may be concluded that within the ongoing processes of sustainable agricultural intensification and structural rural transformation in Sub-Saharan and North Africa, the root causes of distress migration of rural youth need to be addressed by offering more and better on-farm and off-farm employment opportunities.
This article discusses youth policies in international arenas, noting the great variation in the ways in which youth is conceptualized and operationalized in policy and legislation. The next section explores policy discourses to assess assumptions that underpin youth policies in Nigeria, Tanzania and Zambia. It first summarizes key debates in the international development community, and then analyses the philosophies of intervention of case country youth policies. Next, the article places the national youth policies within the context of academic debates on youth participation. The last section reconnects the discussion to the theme of youth in agriculture.
A review examined 19 IFAD-financed projects with strong pro-youth features and/or promising innovations in reaching young people in rural areas of 11 countries: Argentina, Colombia, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal and Vietnam.
The report informs Feed the Future (FTF) efforts to more strategically and deliberately engage youth in market systems by providing insights from current FTF country programs. The research team assessed 13 Feed the Future programs, carried out field visits to four countries, and held focus group discussions with 384 individuals aged 10-40. The report presents examples of how FTF activities have engaged youth to date. Overall, the research team found that few FTF programs track age, and youth have not been a group targeted in most FTF programs. Moreover, most FTF programs in the countries visited tend to be highly focused on production, where youth face specific barriers that might be mitigated in potential roles higher up the value chain. A major finding is that intentionality in youth engagement matters. Many activities as designed do not align with the specific needs of youth, particularly young women. The review also found that youth are engaged at all levels of the value chain, and thus the prevailing assumption that youth are not interested in agriculture is not only wrong but damaging. The report makes five major recommendations for increased youth engagement across the FTF portfolio.
This briefing paper discusses and provides examples of how agricultural cooperatives can facilitate youth’s empowerment in the sector, namely by facilitating access to land and water, markets, financial services and information, communication and knowledge.
This concise note provides a two-page list of concrete steps to take at the pre-design and design stages to develop projects that benefit young rural women and men. It also offers a two-page list of project activities that benefit young rural people, outlined according to theme, with resources and examples of best practice provided for each. Finally, it offers examples of good practice from IFAD projects around the globe. Topics cover youth engagement in policy dialogue, youth-inclusive rural finance, and business services.
This note describes lessons learned regarding how youth-serving organizations can effectively create holistic programming around rural youth entrepreneurship, based on the International Youth Foundation’s experiences in carrying out a youth agribusiness project in Senegal. Key recommendations include adopting a holistic approach to training, taking a value chain approach, facilitating access to financing and capital, and fostering community buy-in.
Project-Based Learning: Equipping Youth with Agripreneurship by Linking Secondary Agricultural Education to Communities
This research paper explores how project-based learning can be used to equip students with agripreneurship competencies and other valuable life skills while linking secondary agricultural education to communities for improved livelihoods. It discusses the background of agripreneurship, summarizes the role of extension services in this context, introduces the concept and provides examples of project-based learning in agricultural education and extension, and presents the relative strengths and weaknesses of the approach.
International development practitioners have been applying a market systems approach to agricultural value chains to work within the systems’ new or existing rules and promoting access to the supporting functions that foster, rather than impede, agricultural growth. Recently, the industry has been asking, “how can a market systems approach facilitate greater youth inclusion and allow youth to thrive in the global agri-food system?” The Feed the Future Project Design Guide for Youth-Inclusive Agriculture and Food Systems: Volume II for USAID had a chance to address this question by applying the Market Systems Development (MSD) approach to youth’s engagement in agriculture. This poster graphically illustrates how the MSD approach interacts with youth and agriculture and highlight the 3 most relevant questions to be addressed: 1. How and to what extent are youth already engaged in agricultural value chain activities? 2. How and to what extent can youth access and are served by the supporting functions of a market system? 3. In what ways do the rules facilitate or hinder youth engagement in agriculture?
A growing body of evidence captures successful approaches for upgrading youth skills across all contexts and sectors, with some covering rural areas and the agriculture sector. Generally speaking, investing in youth skills development pays off with positive impacts, particularly on employment and earnings outcomes. This impact does not take effect immediately and is more pronounced among low- and middle-income countries than among high-income countries. Moreover, the effects vary greatly between program type, design and context, indicating the need for careful design of youth employment interventions. Evidence also suggests that the targeting of disadvantaged youth may act as a key factor for success.
Effective youth skills development programs have several common features: They offer multiple pathways for learning and employment, focus on employer and market demand for skills, use applied learning methods, and offer follow-on services and supports that link youth with tangible employment or self-employment. For agriculture specifically, skills transfer effectively occurs in work-based learning venues such as farmer field schools, on-site employer-based training, internships, volunteer opportunities, and co-curricular youth organizations. Soft skills (such as social skills, positive self-concept, self-control, communication skills and higher-order thinking) are as important to success in the workplace as technical or agricultural-specific skills, including in the agriculture sector where ever-changing global demands require flexibility and adaptation. And even though a skill might be developed in an agriculture or workforce setting, evidence shows that youth apply many of these skills (e.g. problem solving, planning ahead, and negotiations) in other aspects of their life, including conflict mitigation and health and nutrition. These findings highlight the benefits of a cross-sectoral approach to working with youth in agriculture.
In recent years, a growing body of evidence has indicated that cash transfers may be just as effective as active labor market interventions for increasing youth incomes and employment, at least in the short term, and possibly at a lower cost per participant. Some evidence suggests that cash transfers combined with skills development delivers the greatest impact. More evidence is needed on the comparative long-term effects. More attention is also needed on evaluating the cost-effectiveness of different skills development interventions for different youth segments, and across different agriculture sectors and functions, as most of the evidence is not necessarily specific to the agriculture sector.
Interventions to Improve Labour Market Outcomes of Youth: A Systematic Review of Training, Entrepreneurship Promotion, Employment Services and Subsidized Employment Interventions
This seminal systematic review investigates the impact of youth employment interventions on the labour market outcomes of young people. The systematic review and meta-analysis is based on evidence from 113 counterfactual-based impact evaluations of 107 active labour market programmes in 31 low-, middle- and high-income countries. It covers labor market programs in both agriculture and non-agriculture sectors. Overall, empirical results indicate that investing in young people through active labour market programmes pays off with positive impacts, particularly on employment and earnings outcomes. This impact does not take effect immediately and is more pronounced among low- and middle-income countries than among high-income countries. Moreover, the effects vary greatly between programme types, designs and contexts, indicating the need for careful design of youth employment interventions, and that the targeting of disadvantaged youth may act as a key factor for success.
The purpose of this paper is threefold: (1) To provide a comprehensive look at the way the private sector is involved in youth skills and employment in low- and middle-income countries, considering the broad range of program types and firm types; (2) To present and interpret the available evidence of the effectiveness of this involvement; and (3) To understand where the private sector has been most effective at promoting young people’s labor market success, and what can be done to enhance the role of the private sector to achieve this objective. One of the report’s many findings is that it acknowledges the scaling potential of youth-inclusive agriculture value chains and entrepreneurship, but also notes the relatively little evidence to date on the impact of youth-inclusive agriculture value chain interventions.
This report shows the shift of fruit and vegetable preparation from rural households to the urban kitchen and highlights the new skills and global standards required of workers and suppliers in developing countries to meet the needs of global supermarkets. Five countries are covered in this report: Honduras, Chile, Kenya, Morocco, and Jordan. While not specific to youth, this research illustrates ways to understand the changing demand for skills that is relevant to young labor market entrants in an agri-food system serving global markets.
Soft skills are skills, competencies, behaviors, attitudes, and personal qualities that enable youth to navigate their environment, work with others, perform well, and achieve their goals. Through an extensive and systematic literature review, as well as consultations and focus group discussions with stakeholders, this study identified five key soft skills that — according to researchers, employers, youth, and program implementers — best enable youth (15-29) worldwide to be successful in the workplace. It is not specific to agriculture, but rather presents a set of generalizable soft skills that are relevant in today’s global world.
This collaborative effort of AIYD members highlights definitions and effective practices for positive youth development across sectors. The guiding principles are organized into the following sections: Cross‐Cutting Principles (e.g. gender, conflict, disability), Youth Engagement, Youth & Learning, Youth & Economic Opportunity, and finally, Youth & Health. Each section includes a definition, several guiding principles, illustrative indicators for measuring progress, and a list of recommended resources. Some sections highlight emerging areas of youth development research, such as adolescent brain development, while others provide a formal definition for common concepts in the field, such as gender-based violence.
This three-page technical brief summarizes the key elements of effective youth skills development programs: multiple pathways for learning and employment, focus on employer demand for skills, use of applied learning methods, offering follow-on services and supports, engaging a broad range of stakeholders, supplementing training with self-employment coaching and support, and monitoring and evaluating results.
This systematic review offers evidence on the impact of farmer field schools (FFS). It synthesizes quantitative evidence on intervention effects using statistical meta-analysis, and qualitative evidence on the barriers and enablers of effectiveness using a theory of change framework. Roughly 25% of projects covered by this review targeted youth, and 50% targeted women. In spite of the small base of rigorous impact evaluation, the research suggests that FFS are beneficial in improving intermediate outcomes relating to knowledge and adoption of beneficial practices, as well as final outcomes relating to agricultural production and farmers’ incomes. Some evidence suggests FFS programs should target younger farmers, those with greater land endowments, and women (favoring those with relatively low opportunity costs of labor and/or farmers with relatively high pesticide costs). Yet the research also suggests field schools are less effective if women are from households where they are not in a decision-making position, or when youth are not able to dedicate their time to the FFS plot or their agricultural fields.
Equipping Young People to Make a Change in Agriculture. 2017 Internal Review of YPARD’s Pilot Mentoring Program
This desk review explores the strengths and limitations of four mentoring approaches adopted by the 15,000-member Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD): face-to-face mentoring, online mentoring, global conference mentoring, and peer mentoring and coaching. This report is one of the first comprehensive explorations of the impact that mentoring can have both on young and senior agricultural professionals. It presents case studies and data exploring the impact mentoring is having in the lives of young people and their communities, and provides a set of practical recommendations on how to implement effective youth mentoring programs in the agriculture sector.
The four-page thematic study summarizes the role of co-curricular youth organizations (e.g. the National FFA Organization and 4-H) that teach technical agricultural skills in a structured format with hands-on application of those skills. Approaches include competitive events, proficiency awards, leadership development, and community involvement.
Developing the Capacity of Middle-Level Tertiary Education in Preparing and Nurturing Young Entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa
The purpose of this literature review is to frame the current state of affairs of middle-level tertiary institutions that offer academic programs to train entrepreneurs in Sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis involves a desktop review of literature in the context of the Feed the Future (2010) initiative to achieve sustainable food security, reduce poverty, promote rural innovation and stimulate employment by building human and institutional capacity. It focuses on the state of educational institutions and their curriculum.
This report summarizes the findings of one of USAID’s first youth and agriculture assessments, focusing on youth employment opportunities in the freshwater prawn sector in Bangladesh. It then proposes several design recommendations for an 18-month pilot project to train and place 360 youth in jobs in the sector. Results of the pilot are summarized in a two-page brief.
The Youth and Transferable Skills evidence gap map (EGM) provides easy access to the best available evidence on the outcomes of transferable skills programming for youth in low- and middle-income countries and to highlight important gaps in this evidence base. Transferable skills, often referred to as soft, non-cognitive or life skills, provide youth with the tools and confidence to succeed in terms of employment, health and personal well-being. Interventions were mapped in seven thematic areas including formal education, extra-curricular activities, pedagogy, skills training, work placement, alternative learning pathways, and financial support. Outcomes of these interventions were categorized into individual learning and behaviour outcomes, academics, employment, livelihoods and demography outcomes, and institutional outcomes. The tool does not allow for navigation specific to the agriculture sector.
Developed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the gap map is an interactive platform to explore the impact of 107 interventions on employment, earnings and business performance outcomes. Although much of the literature pertains to rural and agricultural contexts, the tool does not allow for navigation specific to the agriculture sector.
This toolkit is primarily for program managers of employability or entrepreneurship training and services programs targeting youth in Africa. Based on experiences in Kenya and Rwanda, the toolkit presents profiles of jobs in three sectors — ICT, health, and agriculture — and provides detailed training information and exercises to help youth secure formal employment or to start their own businesses. It covers the following agriculture job functions: cooperative manager, agriculture information services agent, organic farming, agriculture input sales, storekeeper/ inventory officer, production assistant, and junior production manager.
Access to finance has been cited as one of the top barriers to youth engagement in the agriculture sector. Finance is a challenge for small participants throughout the agricultural value chain, but this is especially true for youth. Due to the difficulties young people face in obtaining land tenure and overall lack of physical assets, few youth can offer the collateral that banks seek. Loans from financial institutions often have interest rates in the range of 25-30%, making capital prohibitively expensive. Additionally, many qualification requirements are prohibitive for youth and can be driven by a skeptical opinion of youth’s ability to make repayments. This skepticism of youth is also true of lead firms, who might otherwise be a useful source of value chain finance. This situation is compounded by the fact that financial products are not typically structured to meet the needs of youth who have limited exposure to financial services. Young people are often forced to resort to low levels of informal financing to fund their activities in the agricultural sector, which pushes them into primarily low-capital-intensive activities. Given these considerations, youth inability to access agriculture finance does not appear to be specific to the agriculture sector, but rather represents the set of general financial constraints that youth often face.
Measures that can ease access to finance for youth serve an important function in allowing young people to invest in tools, equipment, and technologies that can be employed for business purposes. Such measures can also help fund up-front capital requirements for items like seeds and fertilizer for those youth fortunate enough to have productive land for high-value crops.
Most literature focuses on increasing access to finance for “rural” youth, emphasizing the bankability of youth enterprises, financial literacy and savings among youth, and the capacity of loan officers. Much evidence points to the relationship between savings (particularly group-based savings) and youth resilience. Except for some limited discussion of the need for loans and leasing arrangements for youth to access land, or the creation of venture capital funds for youth agri-startups, there is relatively little information available about agriculture- and-youth-specific issues in finance. Further research is needed in this area.
This policy paper provides a macro-level picture of youth’s inability to access agriculture finance and provides six major recommendations to policy makers: 1) Promote financial literacy for youth 2) Enhance the capability of financial institutions to assess agricultural sector opportunities; 3) African governments should produce and share reliable statistics on youth employment and financial inclusion in agriculture; 4) Policymakers should encourage special finance packages for young agripreneurs that do not require fixed collateral, e.g. by providing guarantee schemes; 5) Governments should remove barriers to crowdfunding platforms, because they can effectively support young African entrepreneurs; and 6) Impact investment funds should continue to be supported to ensure small agricultural business can still get capital support.
This short technical note considers the challenges and opportunities facing banks and other financial institutions wishing to expand their financing of youth entrepreneurs operating in the agricultural space. It offers a range of available opportunities for expanding outreach, and suggestions for how youth can make themselves more "bankable" and serviceable.
This document synthesizes key lessons learned about youth access to financial services and lists the preconditions for IFAD to support youth access to rural finance projects. It also provides guidance for financial service providers on the design of financial services and non-financial services, as well as guidance for project implementation. Although tailored to rural areas, this guidance provides a general set of lessons learned with relatively little information specific to financing across agri-food systems. A summary “teaser” document is available here.
In this document, IFAD elaborates on the opportunities and challenges that face financial service providers when providing rural youth with financial products. The purpose of this document is to share what has been learned in financial inclusion projects focused on youth, highlighting implications for rural areas. Using those lessons learned as a basis, the final section of the document outlines strategic recommendations that IFAD country programme managers, project design teams and implementing partners can carry out to promote access to rural financial services for young people. The recommendations are further elaborated in the “How To Do” note on youth access to rural finance. A summary “teaser” document is available here.
Physical distance, lack of financial products appropriate for rural youth circumstances, limited exposure to financial services, and poor protective measures often put financial services outside the reach of rural youth. Yet the provision of youth-inclusive financial and non-financial services is critical for unlocking economic opportunities that allow rural youth to live and thrive in their communities. This report summarizes key learnings from five youth-inclusive rural finance pilot projects implemented under IFAD’s Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Program (RYEEP) and provides recommendations for future projects.
This publication is a synthesis of the contributions made by more than 300 participants from 40 countries in the 2011 Cracking the Nut conference, an annual learning event for sustainably building the world’s rural and agricultural markets. Among the many findings of the 2011 event, there was a call for special efforts needed to help rural youth engage productively in rural and agricultural businesses, including the application of holistic services.
This paper explores the potential of youth savings accounts (YSAs) as an intervention at the nexus of youth development and financial inclusion by reviewing: 1) current evidence on the potential effects of YSAs on these two development goals; 2) current trends in the state of practice on YSAs in developing countries, drawing out any implications for achieving these goals; and 3) what information is still needed before we can fully understand whether and how YSAs could actually achieve this dual potential. A small handful of examples in the agriculture sector are provided.
Access to land is commonly cited as one of the chief constraints to young people’s ability to be productive participants in the agri-food system. Youth access to land is governed by both law and custom. Legal statutes often do not protect land rights for youth and provide for a system of inheritance that makes it difficult for some youth, especially young women, to obtain land (for example by guaranteeing that the oldest boy will inherit land). This is often accompanied by laws that dictate that land cannot be further sub-divided into smaller plots, thereby denying ownership not only to females but also to younger males. Custom, which is the predominant determinant of land rights in rural areas, also represents an important barrier to accessing land for youth, who lack political power in such a system. Thus, an understanding of youth segmentation becomes an important determinant of which youth win and which do not under land tenure rules and norms.
Emerging case studies are highlighting successful approaches to increasing youth access to land. Promising youth and land interventions have strengthened youth organizations and participation in land policymaking processes, supported education and awareness-raising activities for youth to know their land rights, and strengthened youth access to legal services to recognize and defend their land rights. To date, however, there is limited evidence on the extent to which these interventions increase youth landholdings, and little to no evidence on the impact of these interventions on outcomes related to increased incomes, employment, or productivity. More research is needed in this area.
How Responsive is Your Land Programme to the Needs of Youth? Guidebook on the GLTN Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria
This publication is a practical guide to using the Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria, a tool for incorporating youth perspectives into land matters at both institutional and programme levels, through a participatory process. It provides a short set of guiding questions and assessment practices, as well as a summary of the key land issues affecting youth populations.
The Effect of Land Inheritance on Youth Employment and Migration Decisions: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia
How does the amount of land youth expect to inherit affect their migration and employment decisions? This paper explores this question in the context of rural Ethiopia using panel data from 2010 and 2014. The research finds that larger expected land inheritances significantly lower the likelihood of long-distance permanent migration and of permanent migration to urban areas during this time. Inheriting more land is also associated with a significantly higher likelihood of employment in agriculture and a lower likelihood of employment in non-agricultural sectors. The research also shows that migration or non-agricultural employment is a last resort after exhausting all means of access to land. Land inheritance plays a pronounced role in predicting rural-to-urban permanent migration and nonagricultural-sector employment in areas with less vibrant land markets and in relatively remote areas (those far from major urban centers). Overall, the results suggest that inheritance strongly influences the spatial location and strategic employment decisions of youth.
This policy paper summarizes the key reasons land is important to youth, and why land issues are not “adult only” issues.
This brief note explains the issues related to youth and land tenure and how they have been addressed by IFAD programs.
This paper examines variation in perceptions of tenure security and satisfaction with customary land governance across rural communities in four African countries. The objectives of the paper are threefold. First, using baseline data from four USAID-funded impact evaluations, the paper describes pre-treatment levels of resource tenure and property rights in Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, and Zambia. Second, the paper examines community satisfaction with land governance, including assessments of leadership accountability and transparency in land-related decision-making. Third, the paper provides a comparative analysis of subgroup differences within and across countries. The particular subgroups of interest for the analysis include female-headed households, youth, and resource-constrained families.
Adolescence is a pivotal time of life in which people form gender norms, so there is a window of opportunity for gender transformation through youth and agriculture programming during those years. Socio-cultural norms play an important role in shaping young people’s decisions to engage in work. Family members especially carry different expectations for the young males and females in the household and allow them different levels of decision-making freedom. Both young men and women face barriers in starting and operating a business, but in many contexts young females tend to have fewer networks and positive role models who support women’s entrepreneurship. Young women are particularly constrained in the work world by domestic and childcare responsibilities as well as restrictions on physical mobility, and many services (e.g. training or banking hours/locations) do not accommodate for these constraints.
While there is a growing body of work on women’s empowerment in agri-food systems, the literature generally does not distinguish between different age cohorts or life stages (e.g. head of household, child/parental status, marital status, etc.). Also, women’s empowerment approaches tend to overlook the needs of and pressures faced by adolescent males who are coming of age in the agriculture sector. Further investigation is required on the intersections of youth and gender dynamics in agriculture.
This discussion paper argues for a “gender and developmental perspective” to explore “what boys have to do with the ‘girl effect’”— namely, how to work with girls and boys alike to achieve gender transformation. This approach seeks to combine the lenses of gender and developmental psychology to better understand gendered behavior in adolescents over their life cycle, with a focus on adolescence (generally defined as ages 10 to 19). The paper first reviews theories explaining the development of adolescent gender identities, drawing from developmental biology, psychology, and sociology. It then reviews available program data to identify promising approaches to promote gender equality and identifies priority questions for future investments in research and practice.
This briefing paper summarizes the research behind the Feed the Future Gender Integration Framework (GIF), a USAID programmatic tool developed to better understand how programs are addressing constraints to women’s empowerment in the agricultural sector. Since this framework makes no explicit mention of youth, age or developmental stage/ life stage, nor does it address youth-specific issues for males, youth-inclusive programs using the GIF may require adaptations to this tool to account for these considerations.
This handbook provides readers with an understanding of agricultural value chains from a gender perspective. The handbook helps practitioners become familiar with how gender issues affect agricultural value chains, presents a process for analyzing gender issues in agricultural value chains, and discusses strategies for addressing gender issues in agricultural value chains. Several examples in this handbook account for the experiences of girls and boys as well as that of young women and men.
Gender in Value Chains. Practical toolkit to integrate a gender perspective in agricultural value chain development.
This toolkit provides practical tools for integrating a gender perspective in agricultural value chain development projects. It covers the following: selecting value chains which have the potential to contribute to increased women’s empowerment and gender equality; conducting a gender-sensitive value chain analysis; interventions at different entry points in the chain; and gender-sensitive tools for measuring interventions. Some of the tools mention youth and are applicable to working with youth.
This program note summarizes key gender issues in youth livelihoods and workforce development programs and discusses the USAID-funded EQUIP3 program approach to addressing gender, using examples from specific youth projects. It does not specifically mention the agriculture sector, but rather discusses general considerations related to youth in the workforce.
This is a series of five modules on teaching gender to secondary and tertiary students. The modules are intended for teachers and facilitators to engage youth in gender-based discussions of agricultural careers. The goal of the training for youth is to enable them to consider career paths primarily by interest and skill rather than being limited by an internalized or societal gender bias. The modules include concepts of “sex” vs. “gender,” household dynamics, activities outside the home, and societal influences on traditional gender roles in agriculture.
This e-learning module provides insight into the gender issues in formal agricultural education programs. It also presents promising practices or strategies for addressing gender issues and encouraging girls in the agricultural sciences. It also offers lesson plans for teachers at the secondary and tertiary levels.
Information and communications technology (ICT) — including mobile phones, computers, video, and radio — have been shown to help expand financial services to youth. Use of such technology can present buying and selling platforms for young entrepreneurs, disseminate market information, provide helplines for young farmers, improve farm management practices, and provide training and education through distance learning. While there appears to be a great deal of research on how ICTs foster agricultural development, not much of this research focuses specifically on youth. One landscape review suggests that girls tend to be under-represented in accessing mobile technology. Overall, more rigorous evaluation is needed to ascertain the cost-effectiveness of ICT interventions in agriculture.
This practical handbook provides a guide for aspiring young ICT entrepreneurs to help them set up businesses that address challenges in the agricultural sector. Governments, private-sector firms, non-governmental organisations, and especially young people are increasingly viewing the intersection of ICTs and agriculture as a way to tackle global youth unemployment. This guide sets out to provide young people with the business skills and knowledge needed to launch successful start-ups. The handbook is also aimed at incubators and institutions that support young entrepreneurs to develop their skills. Taking a hands-on approach, the guide provides a number of case studies, as well as practical advice from young entrepreneurs.
The landscape review identified 80 initiatives, organizations, projects, products, and services, in addition to approximately 275 publicly available documents, related to efforts that support mobiles for youth workforce development (mYWD). The review also involved key informant interviews with 30 experts and practitioners in various fields, including ICT and workforce development. While it covers the range of employment and skills development opportunities for youth, agriculture is a prominent sector covered by this extensive report. One major finding of the review is that while there is a great deal of research on how ICTs foster agricultural development, little of this research focuses specifically on youth. Among the other findings is that mobiles for youth in agriculture include helping youth access financial services, creating buying and selling platforms, and providing helplines for farmers. Mobile supports radio programming in the rural agriculture industry by making it more accurate, timely, and accessible to listeners. Mentoring is a critical element in successful entrepreneurship and business development efforts, especially for girls and young women, who are seriously underrepresented in technology fields.
This report examines trends in the use of information and communication technologies for workforce development and youth employment programs (ICT4WD). Through a desk review and in-depth examination of 17 comparative case studies, the paper identifies benefits and challenges associated with ICT4WD. One of the case studies (#8) features an evaluation study that found online distance learning to be as effective as face-to-face training in enabling farmers in Cambodia to expand their knowledge of agricultural techniques.
An Examination of MOOC Usage for Professional Workforce Development Outcomes in Colombia, the Philippines, & South Africa
This report illuminates the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) landscape in developing countries to better understand the motivations of MOOC users, and the research offers insights on the advantages and limitations of using MOOCs for workforce development outcomes. Drawing from literature and interviews with government agencies, academic institutions, and employers, as well as 3,654 individuals in Colombia, the Philippines, and South Africa — some of whom participated in MOOCs, and others of whom did not — the study found that many MOOC users come from low- and middle-income backgrounds with varying levels of education and technology skills. Completion rates also appear to be relatively high. Among non-users, lack of time was by far the largest barrier to MOOC participation; lack of computer access or skills was not found to be a barrier. Computer sciences, language, and business & management were the three most popular MOOC subjects across the three countries; agriculture-specific courses were not identified in this study.
While there is no single assessment tool for evaluating youth engagement in agri-food systems, a number of tools for assessing youth economic opportunities can be easily adapted to the agri-food systems context. Several tools offer youth-specific instruments for collecting data; others suggest ways to engage youth as researchers and data collectors. Overall, a youth and agri-food assessment should:
- Define and understand the specific youth segment(s) that the activity aims to include or target, including the characteristics of each youth segment, their aspirations, expectations, challenges, and opportunities.
- Ascertain how different youth segments are engaged in agriculture and food systems at present, their respective aspirations and expectations, and where in the system there are opportunities for greater youth inclusion or upgrading.
- Prioritize the major barriers (household level, community level, institutional, legal/regulatory, and socio-cultural and gender norms) that are preventing different youth segments from upgrading and/or participating in different functions of the agri-food system.
- Identify the interventions that are needed to align youth skills, interests, and assets with the objectives of the project and with the demand trends of the agri-food system.
This five-page document provides a set of key questions to ask when programs seek to include youth in value chain development projects. It provides a short example of how these principles were applied to the Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP).
This guide provides a conceptual framework, instruments, and tools for designing and implementing youth assessments in developing countries. It is intended for use by assessment specialists and USAID Mission staff interested in conducting a comprehensive cross-sectoral assessment of the assets and needs of youth. Although it is not specific to the agriculture sector and it requires some adaptation for agri-food systems programming, it presents a useful set of cross-sectoral youth considerations —including sample protocols for youth focus group discussions — that regularly apply to an agri-food systems context.
This cross-sectoral youth assessment tool is intended to be used by implementers to strengthen the design or ongoing efforts of a youth-focused activity. More than an analytical tool, the Youth Compass is a three-step, seven-task strategic process for analyzing weaknesses, opportunities and gaps in knowledge concerning a youth activity (or any activity in which youth will be supported); identifying and prioritizing actions to strengthen the activity; and incorporating actions into them. The Youth Compass conceptual framework consists of four areas: Beneficiaries; Enabling Environment; Youth Participation and Empowerment; and Gender Equality. As it is applicable across all sectors of youth programming, it can offer a framework for adaptation to the agri-food systems context.
SEEP Technical Note: Guidelines and Experiences for Including Youth in Market Assessments for Stronger Youth Workforce Development Programs
This learning product presents eight major recommendations on how to make market assessments more relevant for youth, particularly when addressing constraints related to youth skills. While not specific to agri-food systems, it considers relevant issues such as institutional capacity, local context, appropriate tools and approaches, and including youth in these assessments.
This Value Chain Mapping tool offers a framework for identifying youth employment opportunities in a value chain. It uses visual markers for identifying entry points for key skill sets and identifies where to implement skills upgrades to maximize available resources, such as through technical education or vocational training.
This labor market analysis guide enables market system practitioners and donors to gain a basic understanding of wage labor opportunities and dynamics within target value chains. The annexes provide sample survey instruments for capturing information about wage labor in target value chains, as well as a sample scope of work for a labor market assessment specialist. This guide is not specific to youth, but by addressing wage labor, it considers a source of income that is often overlooked by agriculture programs — and one that is especially important for young people within the agri-food system.
How Responsive is Your Land Programme to the Needs of Youth? Guidebook on the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria
The Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria is a tool for incorporating youth perspectives into land matters at both institutional and program levels through a participatory process. This guidebook provides a short set of guiding questions and assessment practices, as well as a summary of the key land issues affecting youth populations.
This report from a rapid youth labor market assessment for North Eastern Province, Kenya provides an example of a youth-inclusive value chain assessment. The approach includes a systematic look at employment, self-employment and unemployment; an assessment of the desires and behaviors of youth themselves and comparison with available market opportunities and employer perceptions; and a sector-based analysis of potential youth entry points for employment and self-employment. The product of this analysis is the identification of leading 'youth entry points' within growing value chains that are appropriate for youth skills and interests and characterized by unmet or increasing demand. EcoVentures International has illustrated these entry points within modified value chain maps. Among the eight sectors analyzed, the study looks at opportunities for youth in three agriculture-related areas: agro-processing, livestock, and agro-forestry.
This report summarizes the findings from a labor market assessment conducted in Zimbabwe to better inform USAID & DFID on youth employment and entrepreneurship programing. It illustrates the methods by which a data-driven systems analysis can inform rural youth employment programs and policy. The market assessment team assessed overall economic trends and patterns, the resulting demand for skills and workers, and the supply of workers and skills. Given the economic landscape in Zimbabwe, special attention was paid to opportunities in self-employment and entrepreneurship, including those in the banana, poultry, timber, and business services sectors.
This assessment report provides an overview of agricultural growth in Uganda and identifies opportunities for developing youth leadership, skills, and livelihoods. Drawing from a desk review of 90+ secondary sources, interviews with 50+ key informants, and 24 focus group discussions with 400 youth ages 15 to 25, concrete project-level recommendations are provided.