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Decent Rural Employment

Over three quarters of the world’s poor live in rural areas. Most depend on agriculture and their own labour to earn a living. However, rural employment opportunities are often precarious, informal, poorly remunerated and even hazardous.

Creating more and better rural employment opportunities.

Poverty and hunger cannot be eradicated without addressing the inadequacy of employment conditions and opportunities in rural areas. FAO works to generate decent farm and non-farm employment, including by supporting responsible investments in agriculture and food systems and inclusive policy dialogue. 

FAO influences global, regional and national processes on key issues such as youth employment, migration, child labour, distress migration, green jobs, working conditions, and availability of data and evidence. FAO proactively supports governments in the formulation of decent rural employment policies, strategies and programmes, targeting vulnerable groups, particularly youth, women, migrants and children. To achieve this, FAO partners with other UN agencies, civil society, producer organizations, academia and the private sector.

Key policy messages

·        The world faces a global employment crisis and an urgency to create more and better jobs in rural areas. Revitalising rural economies and promoting decent rural employment and workforce development is essential to reduce inequality and distress migration, and end poverty and hunger.

·        Efforts should focus on the untapped potential for farm and non-farm employment in the agriculture sector and within food systems. The drivers for change should be identified on both the labour demand and supply side. Greater investments in agri-food value chain and private sector development are critical for rural job creation, alongside investments in skills development and social protection.

·        Creating more productive and gainful jobs for the rural youth is particularly urgent. Across developing regions, the working-age population is growing. This creates an enormous challenge, but also an opportunity to benefit from a huge demographic dividend. In Africa, for example, almost 200 million rural youth are expected to enter the labour market over the next 15 years.

·        Policies must ensure that work is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace, social protection for families, and freedom for people to express their concerns. They must also boost the income of rural families through the provision of trainings and access to inputs and credit, in order to end the dependence on child labour.

·        FAO plays a crucial role in promoting decent work in rural areas, especially with respect to employment in agriculture, livestock, forestry, fisheries, natural resources management, agro processing and retailing.

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