L'Emploi rural décent

Tunisia: Boosting youth employment to reduce distress migration


Tunis, Tunisia - FAO is working to mitigate rural youth distress migration by helping young Tunisian agro-entrepreneurs start up and run their own enterprises in rural areas particularly prone to out-migration.

Innovative ideas and project proposals for agricultural activities were selected following a call for proposals launched by FAO in August 2016. The call targeted young unemployed Tunisians with a diploma in agricultural sciences and youth organizations form the Nord-West and the South-East of the country. This initiative was part of the Youth mobility, food security and rural poverty reduction project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by FAO in collaboration with the Agence de Promotion des investissements Agricoles (APIA).

The call sought proposals with the potential to: 1) generate farm and off-farm employment opportunities in rural areas; 2) Promote innovation; and 3) Strengthen synergies between migration and rural development. Gender balance was encouraged by providing specific incentives to young women entrepreneurs.

As a result of the call, 20 youth (10 men and 10 women) and 5 agricultural services associations were selected form the South-Eastern region (Médenine, Tataouine and Gabès), while 24 youth (12 men and 12 women) and 1 group for agricultural development were selected from the North-West (Béja, Jendouba, Le Kef and Siliana). FAO and APIA will provide the selected candidates with the necessary technical and in-kind support to shape up their proposals.

"We are pleased that the call for proposals attracted huge interest in the target regions of Tunisia" said Paola Termine, FAO Rural Youth Migration Officer based in Tunis. "It shows that young Tunisians still see agriculture as a valuable source of employment and income. It is very encouraging that qualified young women propose innovative and viable projects in agriculture. This initiative is tailored to the needs of rural youth and will address the challenges they face to make a living in rural areas, providing an alternative to distress migration from some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country".

Young people who are not in education, employment or training comprise a substantial proportion of the working-age population in Tunisia. Access to finance, land and business support remains a major constraint for young entrepreneurs, especially in rural areas. As a consequence, a large number of young Tunisians are leaving the countryside migrating to cities.

Yet, "the agriculture sector offers an untapped reservoir of employment opportunities. This is why we are working with the Government of Tunisia and other stakeholders to improve agricultural productivity and value chain efficiency, while engaging the youth" said Paola.

Harnessing youth potential 

While the agricultural sector can offer interesting employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people, youth have also the potential to innovate agriulture and revitalise rural economies through their skills and motivation. For this reason, the initiative will provide the selected candidates with the necessary training and equipment to launch their enterprises, in a process that will be developed in close consultation with youth themselves.

During the implementation of their project proposals, the young entrepreneurs will be accompanied and guided by trained coaches that will provide technical support and orientation.

Indeed, as part of the technical support, FAO and APIA are strengthening the profession of agricultural coach by developing a targeted curriculum and competency framework, and will reinforce all aspects of agricultural enterprises, including branding and access to markets.

The goal of the initiative is to create a supportive environment that enables young women and men to find innovative ways to create a future for themselves in rural areas, while reinforcing the capacity of the Government of Tunisia to support youth in agricultural entrepreneurship.