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High Level Panel of Experts open e-consultations

Re: Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems - e-consultation on the Report’s scope, proposed by the HLPE Steering Committee

Ileana Grandelis
Ileana GrandelisFAOItaly

Comments on the objectives and content :

The objectives and scope of the report seem adequate and respond well to the need to better understand the engagement and employment potential of youth in agriculture and food systems. It is positively noticed that both aspects of employment quantity and quality are taken into account. Improved working conditions are crucial to supporting the well-being and long-term productive potential of young workers, and are also key determinants of how attractive agricultural work is to young farmers and agro-entrepreneurs.

Suggestions are:

  • to avoid focusing too much on the challenges, which have already been overanalyzed in several reports, and more on the opportunities that the literature has pointed towards (and related support systems needed);
  • to avoid limiting the analysis to agriculture only, for which more information is probably available, and really expand to food systems and the opportunities and role that youth might have within them (including by pointing to eventual data gaps to fully appreciate the current role of youth in agri-food systems);
  • to assess the extent of the effort conducted so far by the development community to identify youth and employment-centred pathways for agri-food system development, which would include for instance more inclusive agribusiness development and business models, sustainable food value chain development, increasing responsible investments but in particular a dedicated effort to better understand the role of different categories of youth in the agri-food system, their challenges and aspirations, the current employment potential and the new opportunities that could be identified to create new jobs or improve the quality of existing jobs;
  • to look into the specific needs of specific categories of youth, in addition to young women, namely: younger youth (below 18 but already having reached the legal age to work and certainly to engage, so 15 plus), indigenous youth. highly educated youth (ex. those that may be able to benefit from university-based agriculture incubation programmes) vs more vulnerable and less educated youth (and among them distinguishing between the majority of the very vulnerable/poor/unemployed youth and young people from rural areas that are already active in agriculture for instance and that without being already Agripreneurs can find relevant opportunities in agriculture and food systems and, because of proximity, contribute to also support their most vulnerable peers);
  • to point towards specific data gaps and expected progress. It is well known that there is limited availability of data on employment and decent work aspects in rural areas. Specific rural employment surveys are scarce in most low-income countries and in developing countries in general. Most of the data available on rural employment come from population censuses, which are low frequency; labour force surveys, which are relatively scarce; and – in the absence of these sources – household budget surveys, which collect only limited basic information on employment. Similarly, agricultural surveys essentially focus on production and land, and not all countries collect information on labour. The nature of rural labour markets – and of agricultural work in particular – gives rise to specific challenges, notably a shortage of reliable information and data in various areas: Rural work tends to be informal, precarious, casual and/or seasonal, and workers often hold multiple jobs, undertaking both farm and non-farm activities throughout the year. In such contexts, information on returns to labour (whether self- or wage employment, underemployment, and shares of paid/unpaid work) is largely missing, especially for small-scale agriculture; Job quality is not easy to measure precisely and data are not adequately captured. As a result, there is little information available on: underutilization of skills, multiple job-holding and excessive hours of work, informal recruitment practices and networks, and gender and age inequalities in the rural labour market; OSH; and other related quality aspects (e.g. access to social protection and social dialogue). Finally, there is a lack of information on specific issues, such as rural migrants and migration flows, occupational mobility, rural women and youth’s time use, child labour, assets’ ownership and control of resources. While the past two decades have seen some progress in the collection of rural labour data, especially in terms of sex and age disaggregated data in agriculture, there are still many gaps. (source: FAO, 2016. While the above is rather known, it would be interesting to assess the expected improvements linked to the SDG measurement for instance and which areas should be further prioritized for addressing major knowledge gaps in this area. As a concrete example, FAO is currently conducting youth-centred value chain assessments (pilots already concluded in Uganda and Kenya) and will develop a corresponding guidance document, with the objective of assessing the specific role of youth in a given value chain, their employment conditions and identify concrete new opportunities along the different nodes of the value chain. Similarly, FAO has initiated a set of studies of assessment of youth access to agricultural finance (first study conducted in Uganda, to be published before the end of February).

Good practices and successful experiences:

See information collected by the recently launched Decent Jobs for Youth Knowledge Facility: Learning, sharing, and engaging (includes data, guidance materials, success stories)

Several reports, policy and programmatic documents are also collected and briefly analyzed in FAO Decent Rural Employment database, which includes specific tags for youth.

The CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems represent a good practice in terms of attention to youth and decent work aspects in voluntary guidelines. See lessons learnt from 6 African countries.

Some successful experiences have been generated through the FAO Integrated Country Approach programme for boosting decent jobs for youth in the agri-food system. The ICA programme has also developed Context Analysis for Uganda, Kenya, and Senegal, while Rwanda and Guatemala will be online by February 2020. An example of succesful approach is the Youth Inspiring Youth in Agriculture Initiative (YIYA) conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture (MAAIF) in Uganda with FAO support in 2017, as a mechanism to identify Youth Champions for Decent Work in Agriculture in order to give visibility to their role in the agri-food system, but also to partner with them in mentoring and providing engagement/work opportunities to other more vulnerable youth in their communities.(additional information can be provided on this specific initiative, since it has been evaluated in 2019 for it to be institutionalized/replicated in Uganda in 2020). Other ICA-related good practices and lessons learnt are summarized at:

A successful process supported by FAO to improve youth engagement in the governance of agriculture and food systems is the establishment of the Rwanda Youth in Agribusiness Forum (RYAF). Through the TCP “Strengthening youth roles and access in the Agricultural sector in Rwanda” (TCP/RWA/3601/C1, 2017-2018), the Organization supported the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) in the establishment of the RYAF, a platform that brings together different youth organizations, individual youth farmers and entrepreneurs in agriculture. For the establishment of the RYAF, MINAGRI was awarded this year’s Edouard Saouma Award, for outstanding efforts in involving youth in Rwanda’s agriculture transformation.

At the regional level, in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), the development of the Plan de Acción Regional dirigido a la Juventud Rural en los países del SICA can be seen as a successful process for youth-inclusive policy dialogue. More info at:; Similar plans and strategies have been supported through participatory dialogues in several countries such as the National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture in Uganda (NSYEA) (for which a youth-inclusive and very active technical working group is currently monitoring implementation and in the process of building a baseline mapping) or the Kenya Youth Agribusiness Strategy. The issue of programmatic coordination in implementation remains however a challenge.

Other success story are collected in the publications: FAO, 2014. Youth and Agriculture: Key Challenges and Concrete Solutions  ; FAO. 2019. Youth in motion for climate action! - A compilation of youth initiatives in agriculture to address the impacts of climate change.

Suggested references:


FAO, 2014. Youth and Agriculture: Key Challenges and Concrete Solutions

FAO, 2018. FAO's Integrated Country Approach (ICA) for promoting decent rural employment. Results and stories from the field

FAO. 2019. Youth in motion for climate action! - A compilation of youth initiatives in agriculture to address the impacts of climate change. Rome

IFPRI, 2019. Youth and jobs in rural Africa: Beyond stylized facts

IFAD, 2019. Rural development report. Creating opportunities for rural youth and related background papers

OECD, 2018. The future of rural youth in developing countries


FAO, 2019. Kigali Conference report. Youth Employment In Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa: “Engaging through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and Entrepreneurship (uploaded)

FAO, 2019. Agripreneurship across Africa. Stories of inspiration

FSN forum report, 2018. Youth employment in agriculture as a solid solution to ending hunger and poverty in Africa

WB, 2014. Youth Employment in Sub-Saharan Africa

OECD, 2018. Agriculture, food and jobs in West Africa. More info at: Allen, T., P. Heinrigs and I. Heo (2018), “Agriculture, food and jobs in West Africa”, West African Papers, N°14, OECD Publishing, Paris.

Latin America and the Caribbean

2016, Juventud rural y empleo decente en América Latina

Multiple publications from RIMISP on the topic at

CEPAL, 2019, Situación de las juventudes rurales en América Latina y el Caribe