Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems (RAI)

Empowering youth

The Challenge

Increasing youth unemployment against the backdrop of high population growth is a major challenge for many countries.

Our Response

  • FAO engages with young agri-entrepreneurs globally who need support to carry out investments that make their businesses and farms flourish, as well as young workers in need of employment opportunities.
  • FAO works to empower youth to engage in responsible agricultural investments by strengthening:
    • institutional, policy and incentives frameworks
    • organizational capacities of youth organizations
    • individual capacities of youth agri-entrepreneurs
  • FAO initiatives include:
    • developing and applying capacity assessments and strategic planning tools
    • organizing learning programmes on youth-sensitive incentives frameworks

The Bigger Picture

Global and regional commitments

The importance of empowering youth to invest and benefit from responsible investments in agriculture is increasingly recognized at national, regional and global levels. As such, policy makers have taken action to empower youth to carry out and benefit from agricultural investments.

At the global level, governments have committed to “substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training” by 2030 under the Sustainable Development Goal 8 (“Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”). The 4th Principle for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems requires those involved in investment related decision making to “engage and empower youth.”

At the regional level, the 2014 African Union Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods, commits member states to create job opportunities for at least 30% of youth in agricultural value chains. 

Translating these global and regional commitments into action requires engaging a wide range of actors, assessing existing and needed capacities, and identifying potential solutions.

Establishing a roadmap to attract young agri-entrepreneurs in Tunisia

FAO and the Rural Economy Laboratory of the National Agricultural Research institute of Tunisia (INRAT) are undertaking a diagnosis to support the Ministry of Agriculture, Marine Resources and Fisheries in its efforts to empower youth to engage in responsible agricultural investment. This diagnosis focuses on a specific territory with high development potential (the North West) and two value chains: the olive oil and dairy goat value chains. This diagnosis will result in concrete recommendations to empower young agri-entrepreneurs in Tunisia, including through enhanced policy and incentives frameworks and support services.

After initial field-level consultations and research activities, a first multi-stakeholder workshop was organized on 14 October 2019 to share experiences and develop a vision on how to make the agriculture and agribusiness sectors more attractive for young Tunisians.

These activities are done in partnership with the Tunisian Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency (APIA), and in technical collaboration with the Swiss School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL). These activities are funded by Switzerland. 

Global advocacy

In order to raise global awareness about the need for youth engagement in responsible investment in agriculture, a side-event was organized within the 45th session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in October 2018. Entitled Agriculture is not cool?! Think Again. Closing the generation gap, the event addressed the challenges that young farmers face to make a living, such as difficulties to accessing land, credit and other financial services. In the context of a growing demand for food and rural-to-urban migration flows, addressing these issues is vital. Event participants shared ideas on how to scale up efforts to create an environment in which youth can engage in responsible agricultural investment.

The event was organized by FAO, the Comité National Suisse de la FAO (CNS-FAO), the World Farmers' Organisation (WFO), the Young Farmers' Committee, the Special Secretary for Family Farming and Agrarian Development (SEAD) the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) and the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS).

Assessing the capacities of youth to engage and benefit from agricultural investment

With funding from the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), FAO developed a capacity assessment tool to support governments, enterprises, farmer organizations and others to empower youth to engage in responsible investment in agriculture. The capacity assessment tool guides stakeholders through a set of questions to assess the existing and needed capacities for youth to carry out and benefit from investments. The tool has been applied in workshops in Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda. These workshops have allowed stakeholders from different backgrounds to better understand the multidimensional character of the challenges they face.

FAO works with the Asian Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Asia (AsiaDHRRA) to support the implementation of the ASEAN Guidelines to Promote Responsible Investment in Food, Agriculture and Forestry with a particular focus on youth. Following a Training of Trainers for AsiaDHRRA national members organized by FAO, the organization is using a FAO capacity assessment tool to identify key challenges and opportunities for young agri-entrepreneurs in various ASEAN countries, including Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. The aim is to draw up a roadmap to inform regional and national policymaking and program design on responsible agricultural investment with, by and for youth. More information is available here.

Tackling the needs identified: incentives and learning programme

In partnership with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA), FAO is addressing one of the priority capacity needs identified in the capacity assessment workshops: strengthening capacities of policy makers and youth to create an enabling environment that empowers youth to engage in responsible agricultural investment. This includes the development and pilot-delivery of a blended learning programme on a youth-enabling environment for responsible agricultural investment.

In the Senegal River Basin countries (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal), FAO in partnership with Initiative Prospective Agricole et Rurale, is deploying a learning programme for policy makers on the enabling environment for responsible agricultural investments, which incorporates the main outcomes of the youth capacity assessment.