Home > Themes_collector > Decent Rural Employment > Resources > Detail
Decent Rural Employment

Back to the future: ICA cultivates the young generation of farmers


Youth around the world are increasingly turning away from agriculture. Traditionally requiring tough manual labour and offering low wages, agriculture is not appealing to new generations who often prefer to try their luck finding jobs in cities. Yet, agriculture, the world's oldest and most entrenched industry, has the greatest potential of all sectors to reduce unemployment and poverty.

As part of its efforts to foster decent rural employment, FAO is working with countries to show that, with the right national policy environment, solid entrepreneurial skills and ICTs applied to the agricultural domain can lead to successful agribusinesses and the prospect of a stable and fulfilling future in rural areas.

The FAO Integrated Country Approach (ICA) for decent rural employment is the flagship programme for policy support and institutional capacity development to address the youth employment challenge. Since 2013, the ICA has been implemented in two different phases in five countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The Programme is specifically designed to support governments in developing strategies, policies and programmes aimed at improving the quantity and the quality of on-farm and off-farm job opportunities for youth in rural areas.

As part of these efforts, ICA develops rural-friendly labor intermediation services, promotes the use of ICTs to facilitate exchanges on agricultural practices and commercial networks, and fosters social entrepreneurship in rural areas. Along the way, the Programme strives to help farmers and rural authorities identify business opportunities and establish public-private support systems for rural youth.

From 2015 to mid-2018, ICA was implemented in Guatemala, Senegal, and Uganda, with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA). Building on the lessons learned from the earlier phase in Malawi and Tanzania, the second phase of ICA prioritized policy dialogue with relevant stakeholders to identify the best strategies to boost rural youth employment in the three target countries. The Programme also focused on knowledge and evidence generation to support informed policy decisions. Furthermore, it provided technical support and capacity development to key institutions, in order to mainstream youth and employment considerations in the agricultural and rural development discourse.

These efforts translated into the formulation and implementation of national policies aimed at helping youth access more and better employment opportunities in rural areas and agri-food systems, in the three target countries.

Part of the larger challenge faced by ICA is to make agriculture more modern and attractive to young people. To this purpose, ICA promoted youth access to agriculture-related information, skills and markets. For instance, the Programme trained young women and men in agricultural production, aggregation, transformation and service provision. It also supported them in designing and starting up economically viable productive initiatives in their rural communities, adopting a collaborative economy approach.

What is more, the Programme also had a global component that boosted FAO's overall institutional capacity to provide targeted support to promote rural employment. This included developing new knowledge and guidance materials to address the specific needs of young workers in the rural sector.

By the end of the project in mid-2018, more than 2,000 people had participated in ICA-promoted dialogues and market fairs. In addition, in the countries where ICA has been implemented, its pilot models have helped over 1,500 rural youth to expand their skills, access employment services, connect to networks and finance opportunities, with gender balance guaranteed across training opportunities and initiatives.

Related resources