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L'Emploi rural décent

Providing life-changing opportunities for rural youth


Today, the world’s population is young and dynamic. Some 1.2 billion youth make up 14 percent of the global population, and almost 88 percent of them come from developing countries. This means a large number of young people with great potential and aspirations, but facing big constraints and challenges to build their future. On International Youth Day 2017, FAO joins the world to recognize the importance of young people to build a future based on peace and prosperity.


FAO is helping countries create more employment opportunities for youth in rural areas, by harnessing the potential of agricultural and rural livelihoods. "Fostering sustainable agriculture and rural development is essential to absorb these millions of youth looking for a job" said the Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization José Graziano da Silva during a joint African Union-European Union meeting, hosted at FAO headquarters in Rome last June. "A sustainable world can only be achieved with the full engagement of young people. They must feel integrated and believe that a more peaceful and prosperous world is possible".

While population grows, employment opportunities remain limited and of poor quality for young people in rural areas. They often earn low wages and face unsafe, exploitative working conditions, which force them to migrate to urban areas or leave their country to look for better opportunities.

In 2015, of the 244 million people who crossed the border in search of a better life, about one-third was between 15 and 34 years old. In addition, there were 763 million internal migrants. Many young migrants come from rural areas where the lack of productive and decent employment opportunities perpetuates poverty, food insecurity and economic fragility. Conflicts and natural disasters adds further pressure on rural livelihoods, all of which leads to forced migration and displacement of youth internally and abroad.

By the end of 2016, 66 million individuals were forcibly displaced worldwide, many of whom are young people coming from rural areas. These generations of displaced young people are particularly exposed to the threat of violence and radicalization. For rural youth, the creation of decent employment is much more than just a job. It is a life-changing opportunity to build a brighter future based on peace and prosperityin their own country.

An inclusive and integrated approach

Five concrete solutions to help youth engage in agriculture and rural development include:

1. Enhance their participation and leadership in producer organizations and cooperatives as a way to engage them in policy dialogue. 

2. Promote tailored financial products (such as savings, credit and insurance) and start-up funding opportunities for rural youth to engage in agriculture and agribusiness.

3. Accelerate the intergenerational transfer of land, youth-tailored land leasing arrangements, and loans that help them acquire land.

4. Increase access to education and training for rural youth to develop job-relevant skills for agriculture and non-farm activities.

5. Invest more in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) appealing to rural youth to improve efficiency in farm work and facilitate access to markets, information and business opportunities. 

In the field

FAO is working through theIntegrated Country Approach (ICA)to help governments integrate youth employment issues into their agriculture and rural development policies, strategies and programmes, contributing to the achievement of SDG #8 on inclusive growth, productive employment and decent work for all, SDG #4 on equitable education and skills development, and SDG #1 on ending poverty in all its forms.

In Guatemala, FAO is helping the rural youth to find the right job through support services and coaching. The National Employment System works through employment windows set up at the local level to provide labour information and intermediation services to rural areas. FAO and the Ministries of Labour and Economy have recently come up with a rural-friendly window to enable rural youth to access information on job offers, agriculture support services and entrepreneurship. Up to now, more than 200 youth have benefited by gaining access to better job opportunities.

Skills and knowledge are also fundamental when it comes to building strong rural livelihoods. “I learned that I don’t have to leave my community and move to big cities to get a job and income to have a dignified life” said Esekier Ramirez Mejía, who participated in the binational learning route between the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the framework of the project “Strengthening decent rural employment opportunities for young women and men in the Caribbean”. This US$2.7 million initiative, set up by FAO and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), aims to promote decent job opportunities for young women and men through exchanges of knowledge and best practices on agriculture, access to markets and management of financial resources.

However, giving rural youth the means and capacities to make a living from the land and their labour is not enough. Agriculture and rural development policies and programmes are also needed to create an enabling environment for youth employment and business development, as well as to reduce distress migration of rural youth. With this in mind, in 2016 FAO supported the government of Senegal to develop a National Rural Youth Employment Policy aimed to create some 150 000 jobs per year. FAO is now contributing to the implementation of the policy by strengthening the capacities of national and district level institutions, as well as public, private and civil society institutions to support disadvantaged youth in rural areas.

In Nigeria, FAO supported the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to develop the Youth Employment in Agriculture Programme (YEAP), which aims to generate 750 000 jobs for youth in the agricultural sector in the next 5 years. Almost 7 000 rural youth have already received training in different value chains and starter packs to create their own agribusinesses. The YEAP provides a framework for supporting targeted public investments to complement and leverage ongoing programmes for youth employment in agriculture and is expected to benefit around 18 500 agropreneurs and 740 000 youth producers.

FAO relies on strategic alliances to drive its programmatic efforts for Decent Rural Employment and is strongly committed to working with a wide range of partners to provide better life opportunities for young women and men and leave no one behind.

  • Discover more about FAO’s projects to promote youth employment
  • See the video on the project “Strengthening decent rural employment opportunities for young women and men in the Caribbean”