Decent Rural Employment

Module 2: Evidence & Advocacy

The Evidence & Advocacy Module aims to assist policy makers, planners and development practitioners to understand and advocate for decent rural employment, including by mainstreaming labour issues into rural development processes and strategies. To encourage dialogue and buy-in from policy makers, it offers key information on the purpose, rationale and benefits of promoting decent rural employment at country level.

Raise awareness and generate evidence at country level

For a long time, employment generation has been considered an automatic effect of increased agricultural production or value chain development, which does not require specific interventions. Even when employment creation is reflected as an explicit priority of rural development strategies, the quality of rural jobs remains largely overlooked. This neglect has often led to suboptimal results in terms of poverty reduction and sustainable food systems.

This module provides a quick snapshot of why employment considerations and accurate socio-economic data on employment-related aspects are so central to rural development and what interventions can be carried out to boost each pillar of the Decent Work Agenda in rural areas. Finally, it brings together several tools developed by FAO to better prioritize decent employment considerations within agricultural and rural development strategies.

Why are employment considerations so central to agricultural development?

Why are employment considerations so central to agricultural development?

  • More and better jobs in rural areas, especially for rural youth, are essential to reduce poverty, given current population dynamics and structural transformation trends.
  • Decent rural jobs will enhance the performance and socio-economic sustainability of the agricultural sector.
  • More productive and stable jobs in rural areas will contribute to food security by improving peoples' livelihoods and access to food.
  • Improved working conditions in rural areas will enhance the compliance of agricultural production with international right-based standards as well as with social certifications.

The importance of data and knowledge generation

The importance of data and knowledge generation

In order to adequately address the challenges that prevent decent rural employment promotion, it is crucial to provide policy-makers with rigorous evidence and accurate socio-economic data on employment-related aspects. However, in many developing countries such information is scarce and the quality of existing data is low. For this reason, data collection and knowledge generation represent crucial cross-cutting components of any policy interventions aimed at creating decent rural employment opportunities at country level.

In this context, FAO works to:

  • Improve processes of data collection and access to reliable statistics and sound analysis on rural labour markets, employment trends and rural migration flows;
  • Increase understanding of rural labour markets and employment patterns, including informality and seasonal work;
  • Facilitate the dissemination of evidence on good policies, interventions and practices.

Possible interventions under each pillar of the Decent Work Agenda

Possible interventions under each pillar of the Decent Work Agenda

Pillar 1 - Employment creation and enterprise development:

  • Enhance labour productivity in rural areas by enhancing access of women and youth to productive resources, information, adapted technology and training
  • Support women and men, including youth and small-scale producers, in accessing markets and modern value chains under fair and decent conditions
  • Implement employment-creation and diversification programmes in rural areas, particularly for youth and women
  • Link incentive structures for investments in agriculture to the number and quality of jobs created
  • Support micro, small and medium agro-enterprises (MSMEs)
  • Implement gender and age-sensitive TVET training programmes that teach employment-relevant technical and business skills and are associated to entrepreneurial support or job placement services
  • Improve the management of rural labour migration, especially of young people

Pillar 2 - Social protection:

  • Foster productivity-enhancing social protection schemes (e.g. cash transfers) and development-oriented public employment programmes in rural areas
  • Introduce employment subsidies and public employment services for the unemployed, including. public works schemes
  • Promote policies and strategies to extend social protection coverage to subsistence farmers and other small producers and informal economy workers in rural areas (E.g. social protection floors)
  • Foster the adoption of OSH standards for the rural workforce, including by promoting safer technology and practices
  • Promote better conditions of work and employment, in particular with respect to maternity protection and working hours
  • Support the adoption of labour-saving technologies and care services for reducing women’s work burden and for poor households in HIV and AIDS (or other diseases) affected areas

Pillar 3 - Standards and rights at work:

  • Support socially responsible agricultural production for small producers and MSMEs, seeking to reduce gender- and youth-based discrimination and to promote responsible business conduct
  • Prevent and eliminate child labour by tackling its root causes and providing livelihoods alternatives to poor households
  • Protect adolescents who have reached the minimum working age but not yet the age of 18 years from abuse and hazardous work, while accompanying them in getting education, skills development and adapted employment opportunities
  • Revise, adopt and enforce legislation to give legal effect to international standards and their applicability to rural areas
  • Analyse prevailing labour contractual arrangements in the informal economy, worst form of child labour and situations of discriminations

Pillar 4 - Governance and social dialogue:

  • Support organizations and networks of producers and workers in the informal rural food economy, including through self-help groups networks and foster their inclusiveness with regard to youth and women
  • Promote collective agreements in the agricultural sector
  • Support the regular representation of the rural poor, especially of women and youth, in social dialogue and policy dialogue through their organizations
  • Empower the rural poor, particularly those most disadvantaged such as women and youth, to engage in local decision-making and governance mechanisms


COVID-19 evidence and advocacy resources