Global Forum on Food Security and Nutrition (FSN Forum)


Youth – feeding the future. Addressing the challenges faced by rural youth aged 15 to 17 in preparing for and accessing decent work

Rural youth are the future of food security and rural poverty reduction. They are also the present as there are more young people today than ever before – 1.8 billion between the ages of 10 and 24 – most of them living in less developed countries and in rural areas. However, youth in rural areas of developing countries face enormous challenges in preparing for and accessing decent work, including in agriculture. These challenges are even greater for youth under the age of 18.

This online consultation invites you to help identify the solutions that can address these challenges. Your contributions will inform the policy and programme recommendations issued by the international expert meeting “Youth – feeding the future: Addressing the challenges faced by rural youth aged 15 to 17 in preparing for and accessing decent work” that will be held by FAO later this year. Selected contributors to the online consultation could also be invited to participate in the expert meeting. (See concept note and participation request form).

Why are we concerned, and what opportunities do we see?

Many youth are working poor, and the youth underemployment situation will continue to worsen if left unaddressed, as millions of young people enter the labour market. At the same time, there is the problem of child labour, with 59% of all child labour taking place in agriculture. Many youth in rural areas see few income and employment opportunities ahead of them. Hence, many are leaving agriculture and their communities to migrate, in search of opportunities in urban areas or abroad.

Yet, with ageing farm populations worldwide, agriculture needs young people. To make agriculture and livelihoods sustainable and achieve food security, better and more environmentally friendly practices need to be introduced. Youth can be the drivers of agricultural and rural transformations that create more inclusive and sustainable food systems. Yet, youth need to see agriculture-related activities as viable and attractive livelihoods that are profitable and match their aspirations for a better future.

What are the challenges facing rural youth aged 15-17?

Rural young people in agriculture face challenges in accessing 1) knowledge, information and education; 2) land; 3) finance; 4) decent jobs, including green jobs; 5) markets; and 6) participation in policy dialogue and rural organizations. These challenges apply broadly to all rural youth in developing countries. Youth under 18 face additional, or different, challenges in accessing decent jobs or becoming successful entrepreneurs. For example, their status as minors can lead to discrimination in hiring and impede access to productive resources and services, such as finance, or their membership in representative organizations. Adequate vocational training is often not available in rural areas and support for the school-to-work transition is weak. Many in this age group work in agriculture and often are exposed and vulnerable to health and safety hazards. When youth aged 15-17 are engaged in hazardous work, this work becomes child labour according to international and national law.

  • Based on your experience, what are the specific challenges rural youth aged 15-17 face (different from those over 18) in making a (current or future) living in agriculture and related activities?*

How can these challenges be addressed?

Particular attention needs to be paid to youth under 18 who have reached the minimum age for employment as this stage in life is typically decisive in how youth will transition from school to work and for the likelihood of transiting out of poverty. Many others are already out of school and are trying to provide for themselves and their families. Yet, youth under 18 are often excluded in the design or implementation of policies and programmes supporting youth employment.

We invite you to share your experience on how policies and programmes can address the challenges faced by rural youth, in particular those under 18.

  • How can policies and programmes overcome the challenges faced by rural youth in a cost-effective manner? If they target older youth, how could we apply them to support those under 18? Please share relevant examples and lessons from your experience.
  • What are the most binding capacity constraints that you or your institution/organization encounter when designing, implementing and evaluating policies and programmes aiming to address the issues affecting rural youth under the age of 18? What are the data gaps regarding the challenges affecting rural youth employment and livelihoods that you periodically encounter?
  • How can education and vocational training in rural areas be improved to support rural adolescents and youth to productively engage in agriculture or related activities? What are the skills and support they need? What does the school-to-work transition for rural youth aged 15-17 look like and what works to effectively support rural youth during this transition?
  • What approaches are most effective in overcoming the additional challenges rural youth under the age of 18 face in accessing decent jobs, including (decent) green jobs (e.g. skills mismatch, health and safety conditions, discrimination, exclusion) or becoming entrepreneurs (e.g. barriers in access to finance, producers organizations and markets)?

We are particularly interested in policies and programmes that have demonstrated results and achieved scale, and in the role that specific stakeholders can play.

We look forward to a lively and stimulating discussion!

Jacqueline Demeranville
Decent Rural Employment Team

* In “agriculture and related activities” we are including farming, livestock, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, and natural resource management and green jobs, financial and extension services, and transport, processing and marketing within the agrifood system.


This activity is now closed. Please contact [email protected] for any further information.

* Click on the name to read all comments posted by the member and contact him/her directly
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Dear All UNEP/FAO and all friends

Please find out Living Farms Green College initiatives, case studies and imapcts in order to upgrade rural tribal youths to make them empowerment by green skill based education and also helps in stopping migration.


Bibhu Santosh Behera,PhD (OUAT)

Scientist and Principal

Green College, Muniguda, Rayagada, Odisha, India

Dear All UNEP/FAO members

Please find out the detail of activities of Green College, an Innovative adult and extension learning institution for Rural and Tribal Youths to feed the future by the Rural and Tribal Youths by getting Vocational Short Duration,Medium Duration and Diploma Courses being conducted by Green Colleges.

Here Living Farms-Green College is Playing a Major Role in Tribal and Remote area of Rayagada Dist. to show the path to the Agroecopreneurs, Youths and Tribal people to give food soverneighty and sustainability.

Here I have attached some activities of Green College by celebrating International Indegenous People day and Green day in Kachhapaju Village a Remote in accessible area of Bissamcuttack Block of Rayagada Odisha of India.

Please give your suggestions and help these tribals


Bibhu Santosh Behera


Independent Scientist(Climate Smart Extension Education and People's Innovation Science)






Para finalizar deseo desarrollar dos temas que considero  importantes para tratar entender la problematica de los jovenes de 15 a 17 años en zonas rurales:

El concepto de familia en zonas rural, en nuestro pais el concepto de familia es amplio, es decir para los padres tener una familia amplia y congregarrlos alrededor de unidad economica familiar, la finca o la comunidad es normal. Tiene que ver mucho con la idea del ayllu andino. Otra aspecto que se destacar es que para las familias, el emparejar a los jovenes en temprana edad no es un problema. En algunos casos es consentidad y promovida por los padres. Entonces el tema de la planificacion familar tiene que tener en cuenta esta situacion, los programas publicos de salud en zona rural deben deben trabaajr con un enfoque que tomen en cuenta esta realidad.

La presencia de Estado en zonas ruarles es una cuestion de debate, generalmente de cuestiona la ausencia del Estado en las zonas rurales. Ante ello aparece como prioridad la cosntruccion de postas medicas, escuelas, servicios de extension agricola principalmente y en ese orden. El problema no es construccion de esta infraestructura fisica, sino del personal profesional o tecnico que debe  brindar los servicios que la poblacion necesita, el debe poner en uso  esta infraestructura. En zonas rurales las condiciones laborales de este personal son duras y  no generan condiciones para su permanencia. Politica de obligar a un servicio civico temporal de los profesionales de salud, incentivos a los sueldos del personal de salud y profesores que trabaja en zonas rurales pueden ser una alternativa, pero  insuficiente. hay que completarla y ampliarlas, por ejemplo  donde puede dormir en condicones dignas este personal?. En algunas zonas  las enfermeras y doctores viven en la posta medica, en otros casos, en las escuelas se habilita cuartos para dormir de lso profesores; una ultima poitica es gobierno peruano es la construccion de unos llamado "tambos" en zonas alto andina, con servicios basicos adecuados, camas, agua potable y  baños, para acoger funcionarios publicos que van a las zonas rurales. Creo que estas politicas publicas deben ser evaluadas y sistematizadas, para mejorar la necesaria presencia de Estado en nuestra zonas rurales y darles condiciones adecuadas a los jovenes y sus familias para que pueden tener tener servicios publicos de calidad.

Espero que estos aportes sirvan al trabajo de Ustedes, gracias.


David Venegas


Amigos y amigas,


Creo que hay dos temas que podemos analizar en esta oprtunidad: el rol de la escuela y la identidad cultural en los jovenes de nuestras zonas rurales.

Al hablar de de uno de estos ejes la identidad local, tenemos que hacerlo desde un enfoque intercultural. Como  hemso dicho existe un tension entre lo urbano y lo rural. Esta tension afecta en muchos casos la identidad local y la pone en cuestion, sobre todo por el uso creciente de nuevas tecnologias, principalmente los celulares e internet. El espejismo de uan vida moderna o de signficado del "progreso", pone en cuestion la identidad local y entre en conflicto con los saberes ancestrales, la vida comunitaria y vida en el campo. Es inevitable esta situacion?. Opinio que no. Hay muchos ejemplos de un uso positivo esta tension, de saber aprovecharla y articular. Apropiarmos de nueva tecnologia y ponerle los contenidos  del campo es un primer reto. Hacer que esos contenidos sea de significacion para los jovenes es el reto mayor.     

El rol de la escuela en zonas rurales es otro aspecto clave, en los jovenes de 15 a 17 años, es su espacio normal, como atiende la escuela las demanda de estos jovenes es un tema clave. En terminos de una curricula apropiada, normalente ella esta alejada de la realidad de la comunidad. Plantearmos la relacion de escuela y trabajo rural es una cuestion clave. Por ejemplo, en mi pais las clases escolares normalmente son de marzo a diciembre. La cosecha en zonas rurales es de mayo a agosto, en esa epoca es "normal" el ausentismo o la desercion escolar de los jovenes.

La propuesta curricular en las escualas no toma en cuenta la realidad del trabajo en el campo. Flexibilizar el curriculo escolar, integrarlo a esa realaid,  establecer un dialogo entre comunidad y escuela, entre saberes ancestrales y  saberes occidentales es una necesidad, no se trata de anteponerlos sino respetarlos.

La distancia entre la escuela y los casa de los jovenes es otra traba, alli hay soluciones simples, programa de prestamo bicicletas comunitarias, bus escolar a cargo del gobierno local o de la comunidad.   

 Finalizo con un ultimo problema critico, con las mujeres jovenes en zonas rurales, es clave enfrentar el  embarazo adolencente e infantil. Este es una problema critico, las altas tasa de embarazo de las jovenes, esto afecta seriamente nuestro desarrollo. es un problema complejo, no solo es dar educacion sexual enlas escualas, esto tiene que ver tambien como la familas campesina entienden la reporducicon familiar y el rol de las mujeres en el campo.

Aqui termino para no hacer muy extensa mi contribucion.

David Venegas


Mary E. Miller

Child Labor/Young Worker Specialist
United States of America

Dear Jacqueline,

You may also find interesting this article describing the regulations limiting hazardous work by children in agriculture and highlighting the significant differences between agricultural and nonagricultural regulations in the U.S.

Kind regards,


Mary E. Miller

Child Labor/Young Worker Specialist
United States of America

Dear Jacqueline,

The attached journal article was written in response to the Obama administration's decision in 2012 to pull the proposal that would have updated the US agricultural child labor rules for the 21st century.  This was after the process was fully underway and public comments submitted, and amid much political opposition, particularly from the American Farm Bureau.  The proposal was not even made available to use as a reference for recommended work restrictions for youth.  I believe youth advocates, injury prevention and health and safety professionals should still use details of the proposed rule as guidance for age-appropriate work.  Additional elements not covered by the proposal are included in the journal article as well.  I acknowledge an oversight in the attached document, that attention must be given to ergonomic limitations for children and youth, particularly weight restrictions for lifting and carrying; and should be considered by researchers and policy makers.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,
Mary E. Miller, RN, MN
Child Labor/Young Worker Specialist

Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean


Latin America and the Caribbean is home to approximately 160 million young people between the ages of 15 and 29.  Although this region is characterized by being the most urbanized region on earth, with over 75 percent of the population living in cities (World Bank 2014), rural youth face a specific set of challenges to achieve inclusion in the economic, social, and political processes that are taking place. A notable feature of the rural youth population in some countries of the region is that rural youth are mainly indigenous youth, which adds an additional dimension of discrimination and exclusion.  Despite their key role as drivers in agricultural development and rural poverty alleviation they often lack the necessary skills, support, and opportunities to contribute fully to their communities.

Some of the specific challenges facing rural adolescents in the region (< age 18):

1. Limited access to education and appropriate training;

2. Early entry into the labour market (due not only to the limited access to education opportunities in their communities, but also the high poverty levels of their families), frequently into the informal labour market and family work in agriculture, which is common at an early age in the rural areas throughout the region;

3. Low levels of access to social protection mechanisms (including health coverage); this is due to the fact that they are unable to access these mechanisms either through their parents or their own work situation;

4. Limited access to knowledge and to resources that will enable them to initiate entrepreneurial activities;  the issue of access to financial resources for youth is particularly a challenge as most mechanisms aimed at improving access to such resources among rural residents are not destined specifically to this population;

5. Few channels for participation in community decision-making;

6. Early motherhood.

This last point is especially pernicious in perpetuating the intergenerational transmission of poverty in rural areas. Data from the most recent census rounds in 7 countries of the region indicate clearly that independent of wealth, adolescents in rural areas have significantly higher chances of being mothers than their counterparts in urban areas (graph 1). Being a mother at an early age can truncate educational trajectories for young women, can limit their opportunities for entering the labour market, all of which has negative impacts on household poverty levels.  

Graph 1
Latin America (7 countries): Women aged 15 to 19 who are mothers, according to wealth quintile and area of residence


Source: Jorge Rodríguez, “La reproducción en la adolescencia y sus desigualdades en América Latina. Introducción al análisis demográfico, con énfasis en el uso de microdatos censales de la ronda de 2010”, Santiago, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Trucco and Ullmann (2015).

With regard to points 2 and 3, rural areas combine both a high degree of informality and youth labour market insertion. According to ILO figures, in Honduras and Guatemala, for example, more than half of youth who work do so in rural areas (59.2 and 51.5% respectively). The incidence of informality among rural youth varies between 80% in Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala and exceeds 90% in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia (ILO, 2015).

Initiatives that hold most promise are those that employ a multi-pronged approach that target several of these challenge areas (such as increasing investments, incentives; strengthening infrastructure, labor market institutions; enhancing skills in entrepreneurship; improving working conditions, social protection, labor rights and representation of young workers).

Actions that can effectively target rural youth fall under a wide range of concurrent special programs for sustainable rural development, including agricultural education; flexible capacity building programs (this point is important – that the programs be flexible); scholarships for indigenous youth to pursue education; support for business incubators for young people; programs for young rural entrepreneurs; funds to support micro, small and medium enterprises; policies that promote and ensure compliance with labor rights of young workers in rural areas.

In this vein, the region is also witnessing initiatives aimed at formalizing rural workers and family farming, where young people are identified as a potentially receptor general formalization policies for rural workers group (ILO, 2015).

Some specific examples of programmes include:

Hospedaje estudiantil en familia, Bolivia

Addresses the lack of and distance from schools in rural indigenous communities and aims at preventing school desertion by matching students with families willing to host them in proximity to the school. 

Prevención del fenómeno de droga y mara en áreas urbano marginales y rurales, Guatemala

Seeks to facilitate and strengthen training, capacity building and organization of children in youth in rural areas in order to prevent them from participating in gangs and drug related activities.

Acre Social and Economic Inclusion and Sustainable Development Project (PROACRE), Ecuador

Seeks to improve the quality of education and health services in 100 rural communities. I don’t have more information; I know it’s a WB project.

Young rural entrepreneurs program (SENA), Colombia

This programme was created in 2004 and is aimed at socially vulnerable young people aged 16 to 35 years in rural areas.  In order to assist them in the realization of projects, the programme provides technical training and practice to develop skills in strategic sectors for six months. The contents of the training are defined according to business projects that are selected. Participants receive support and guidance on how to develop their business plan and access to financing. Moreover, by integrating participants of the programme in the development of the programme itself, it fosters a sense of belonging among participants. From its inception until 2012, more than 1.5 million young people have benefited from it. The program has a quasi-experimental impact evaluation. The estimated effects on employment and income for young people who participated in this programme are positive.

Nossa Primeira Terra Programme (under the National Land Loan Programme), Brazil

Implemented since 2003, this programme aims to promote the development of youth 18-29 years in rural areas. The programme provides low interest loans to landless rural youth and access to additional financial resources for infrastructure development projects. The support extends to the preparation of property, purchasing equipment and technical advice.

Pronaf Jovem, Brazil

Aims to finance agricultural, tourism, and handicraft initiatives by youth 16-29 in rural areas.

Local youth councils

Local youth councils or committees have been established in many countries in the region (Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina) in order to increase youth participation in general. This strategy has expanded the opportunities for rural youth to be involved in local and national decision-making, which is usually highly centralized.


-ILO (2015). Formalizing youth informality: innovative experiences from Latin America and the Caribbean. Available [online]:

-Trucco, Daniela and Heidi Ullmann (2016). Youth: realities and challenges for development with equality. Available [online]:

-World Bank (2014). Latin America and Caribbean Data. Available [online]:

Ms. Genna Tesdall

The Pennsylvania State University, International Association of Agriculture and Related Sciences Students (IAAS)
United States of America

As the former President of the students' network IAAS (the International Association of Agriculture and Related Sciences Students), I heartily advocate for fostering and bolstering networks of young people. The connections, professional and personal, formed through our network of agriculture students, are some of the strongest relationships our members have in their professional lives. Our international events and internships are organized by young people in agriculture for young people in agriculture, thereby providing an exchange of opportunities, experience, and cross cultural understanding. Internships and events in our association lead to agriculture sector jobs for our students. Connections within the association foster agricultural projects and connections to job opportunities locally and around the world. Networks of students are very loyal to each other and provide the support for an career in agriculture that they will not find outside networks of peers.

Muchas gracias por tener este espacio de reflexion e intercambio de experiencias sobre este importantr cuestion para desarrollo de nuestro paises.

Espero poder contribuir al discusion con algunas ideas, lo hare por partes y en varios dias, para no ser  muy extenso en mis propuestas.

El tema es desafios alos que se enfrenta la juventud rural de 15 a 17 años en la preparacion y acceso a un empleo decente.

Creo que son tres cuestiones basicas a analizar: la relacion urbano-rural; el relevo generacional  en la zona rural; y  la identidad e interculturalidad, en el contexto de mi pais Peru.

Como se remarcado el impacto del accceso al mercado laborales urbano y la relacion entre lo entre lo urbano y lo rural, estan significando grandes cambios en mundo rural.  Resultados: despoblamiento creciente de las zonas rurales, envejecimiento de la poblacion rural, abandono prematuro de los jovenes del campo. Esta situacion nos plantea un desafio central para nuestro desarrrollo.

Se puede evitar? Es dificil. El "encanto" de las grandes ciudades, las posibilidades de una mejor educacion y de empleo, por lo tanto de mejores ingresos son actores  que debemos enfrentar.

Por otro lado en nuestros paises va mejorando la conectividad terrestre entre ciudad y el campo, hay mas carreteras o vias de comunicacion que facilitan este traslado. Asi mismo cada vez hay mas acceso a las comunicaciones, ya sea por radio, television o internet, que "seducen" a los jovenes por una vida mejor.

Como enfrentar estos retos? 


Ser joven en el campo en México y en muchos otros países de los llamados en desarrollo, que comparten características estructurales similares,  significa enfrentar ante todo una disyuntiva muy clara: Quedarse en el campo para ser pobre con toda seguridad o irse a la ciudad, en donde cuando menos existe la posibilidad de dejar de serlo.

Esta percepción, que tienen muy arraigada los jóvenes rurales  en México, tiene desgraciadamente bases reales. Según datos del Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática ( INEGI) 7 de cada 10 niños que viven en comunidades indígenas viven en situación de pobreza, mientras que el nivel general de pobreza en el país es de 46.2  según la misma fuente oficial. La mayoría de estos niños viven en comunidades de menos de

 2 500 habitantes, lo cual confirma aún más la percepción que asocia la vida rural a la pobreza. 

Ahora bien, si revisamos la estructura productiva del campo mexicano, rápidamente nos daremos cuenta que los esfuerzos, tanto privados como oficiales, están encaminados a promover una agricultura moderna, de preferencia de exportación, enfocada a satisfacer las demandas del mercado, para lo cual se requieren grandes inversiones dentro de las cuales no tienen cabida, salvo como peones, los jóvenes rurales pobres. El enfoque de esta estructura hace que los esfuerzos gubernamentales orientados a promover el bienestar de los jóvenes rurales resulte inútil, pues los programas de apoyo para jóvenes plantean la conformación de pequeñas empresas que poco tienen que hacer frente a los grandes capitales también apoyados, ellos sí en gran medida, por el gobierno mexicano. 

Así es que no es cuestión de falta de capital invertido o de falta de recursos por parte del estado, pues según la OCDE en su “Análisis sobre el extensionismo  en México” el gasto del gobierno de México en agricultura es el más alto de América Latina, pero está enfocado en subsidiar al capital, no en una perspectiva de bienestar social. Este esquema, en el cual se apoya con capital a fondo perdido, ha provocado que aquellos que reciben el apoyo, se encuentren en una situación ventajosa frente al resto, que tiene que enfrentar una estructura en la cual las barreras de entrada a los mercados se han vuelto enormes.

Pongámonos por un momento en el lugar de un joven rural mexicano, sin capital ni preparación especializada, que tiene frente a sí un panorama en el cual, en el mejor de los casos, tendrá empleos temporales por los cuales cobrará alrededor de 8 dólares por día, con el agravante de que en el campo los empleos son por lo general de temporada. ¿Qué opciones tiene?  La migración se convierte en una respuesta lógica, pero si consideramos que los sueldos en los empleos formales de la ciudad son igualmente bajos (Alrededor de 10 dólares el día) encontraremos la explicación de la grave crisis de violencia que sufre México: El crimen organizado es el único sector de la economía que en México ofrece a los jóvenes la posibilidad real de ingresos decorosos y, algo muy importante, el sentido de pertenencia que se pierde al dejar las comunidades rurales.  

Así es que si queremos que los jóvenes realmente participen en la producción de alimentos, tenemos que empezar por reconocer que no es una situación coyuntural, sino estructural, de 

fondo, de tal manera que sea un enfoque de fondo el que se emplee para cambiar la situación actual. No basta con ofrecerles preparación o apoyo para iniciar sus propias empresas, debe realmente atenderse la agricultura como lo que debe ser, una actividad con sentido social, por medio de la cual se deben producir los alimentos que la población requiere, destinando los recursos naturales y económicos a lograr un desarrollo realmente equilibrado, en donde sigan existiendo los recursos naturales y en donde las utilidades no sean obtenidas en base a empobrecer a la población, como actualmente está ocurriendo.

Al final de cuentas debemos entender que ir por los jóvenes e integrarlos se ha convertido ya en asunto de seguridad nacional, pues si la sociedad formal no va por ellos, ya hay quien sí lo está haciendo: el crimen organizado.

Saludos cordiales desde México

M.V.Z Moisés Gómez Porchini

Docente Medio Ambiente y Desarrollo

Instituto de Ciencias y Estudios Superiores de Tamaulipas