Youth Engagement in Agriculture – Challenges and Perspectives (the case of Belarus)
Agriculture in Belarus is composed of more than one thousand large-scale agricultural enterprises, in which there are more than 290 thousand workplaces. Large-scale collective forms of work organization are the main agricultural producers in the country. Agricultural organizations produce 79.1 % of agricultural output; private (peasant) farms – 2.2 % and households – 18.7 % respectively. The main resource in agriculture is land. In Belarus it became constitutionally owned in 1996 by the state. Agricultural organizations received free permanent farmland use.
The wage conditions of young people working in agricultural enterprises do not meet their human capacities. Therefore, a critical problem arises in agriculture – the increase in labour turnover, which reaches up to 30 %. It is particularly high among young people. Attempts to solve administrative measures have not been successful. Urban areas (cities and towns) are the economic, educational and cultural centers and they attract young people who are not very interested be involved in agriculture. In addition, in cost-effective agricultural enterprises, technical and technological modernization has led to the release of surplus workers. This requires solving their employment.
Stimulating entrepreneurial initiative and business activity through the involvement of young people in agribusiness should be a means of increasing the attractiveness of work and living in rural areas. Small agribusiness should be developed along with large-scale agricultural production with specialization in sheep farming, poultry farming, beekeeping, growing vegetables, fruits, berries, flowers, etc. In addition, there can be alternative sources of employment and income: rural tourism, creation of family estates, farmsteads and handicraft development.
The revitalization of the population in starting a business, the increase in the number of entrepreneurs can be facilitated by: changes in tax legislation (simplification), tax benefits (concessions), business training, the availability of start-up capital, as well as improving the living standards of the population and the purchasing power of the population.
According to the State program of revival and rural development for 2005–2010, on the basis of Village Councils and central estates of large commodity agricultural organizations for the period 2005–2010 1481 agro-towns were formed. Agro-towns belong to the category of rural settlements along with villages and hamlets and represent an equipped settlement in which production and social infrastructures are created to ensure social standards for the population living in it and the inhabitants of the adjacent territories.
However, the lack of opportunities for cultural development and leisure activities is the reason for the youth’s unwillingness to live and work in rural areas. This actualizes the problem of improving the cultural infrastructure of the rural areas, the search for tools to increase attention to cultural heritage and unique features of the territory, forms of inhabitants’ inclusion in the processes of socio-cultural territory development. In addition, this requires the development of rural areas marketing, the formation of a cultural brand as a resource for increasing the competitiveness of rural areas.
The strategic goal of sustainable development of the Republic of Belarus until 2030 is to ensure high living standards of the population and conditions for the harmonious development of the individual based on the transition to a highly efficient economy based on knowledge and innovation, while maintaining a favorable environment for future generations. Achieving this goal provides for a number of activities aimed at improving the quality of life in rural areas and increasing the level of well-being of rural residents. Among these are the improvement of social standards, which provide for an increase in the quality of medical and personal services, the development of trade and road networks, educational institutions, etc.
Many steps have been taken to implement social standards in rural areas. However, this is still not enough to stop such adverse social processes in the rural areas as the deterioration of the demographic situation, caused not only by the lack of birth rates, but also by the migration outflow of the working-age part of the rural population, especially youth and young women, and the decline in the quality of human potential in rural areas. The reason is the inefficient form of rural employment, the lack of high-performance workplaces in agricultural organizations, which leads to low purchasing power of rural residents and, as a result, a reduction in demand for social (household, medical, commercial, housing and communal services, ICT and other) services. This, in turn, is the reason that holds back the development of business and entrepreneurial initiatives in rural areas. This problem requires the development and implementation of a set of measures aimed at increasing the efficiency of the economy in rural areas, which will contribute to increasing the comfort and prestige of living in rural areas and, therefore, actualizing the need for intensive development of the social infrastructure.
Thus, the problem of youth engagement in agriculture needs to be addressed comprehensively. Effective youth employment should be accompanied by improved living conditions in rural areas. The following means can solve this problem: first of all, to promote rural way of life; secondly, to implement high standards of living in rural areas; thirdly, to enhance the prestige of agricultural labour, to improve competitiveness of agricultural specialists.
Olga Pashkevich, Institute of System Researches in Agro-Industrial Complex of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Minsk, Republic of Belarus
For more information please see the link:
Olga Pashkevich, THE ROLE OF YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE OF BELARUS. In: FSN Forum in Europe and Central Asia, part of the Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition. CONSULTATION 25.04.2016 – 15.05.2016 Youth – feeding the future. Addressing the challenges faced by rural youth aged 15 to 17 in preparing for and accessing decent work URL: http://www.fao.org/fsnforum/eca/activities/discussions/rural-youth-emplo...