Bringing youth back to agriculture in Southern Africa

FAO is seeking innovative ways to make the agricultural value chain more attractive to youth, thereby curtailing ‘distress migration’ and helping to provide decent employment and improved livelihoods across the continent.

A young farmer near Harare grows diversified crops to supply local schools, shops and markets.

Speaking at a two-day workshop on “Fostering decent jobs for rural youth in Southern Africa,” held in Harare (24–25 October 2017), the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Southern Africa, David Phiri, said the issue of youth employment occupied a front burner. “The majority of youth do not want to work in the core agriculture sector because they consider agriculture as not attractive enough,” he noted.

Peter Wobst, FAO Senior Programme Advisor, Strategic Programme on Rural Poverty Reduction, said the youth population in Africa, South of the Sahara was likely to double by 2055, but the youth continue to be many times more likely than adults to be unemployed. “Africa’s rural youth face particular barriers to accessing productive employment," he explained. “Young women and men tend to encounter challenges in accessing adequate knowledge, information and education, they have insufficient access to land, inputs, financial services, markets and ultimately, limited involvement in policy dialogue.”

FAO has put in place several programmes aimed at dismantling barriers to active youth participation in agriculture in the Subregion. In Zambia, for example, a joint FAO and ILO project, Yapasa, launched in February 2016, has helped youths break into aquaculture and created decent jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities for young men and women. The project equips young farmers with requisite skills, facilitate loans for inputs including fingerlings and link the youth to market for their products.

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