Decent Rural Employment

Decent work in food systems

Food systems are usually conceived as a set of activities ranging from production to consumption. It is a broad concept encompassing food security and its components – availability, access and utilization – and including the social and environmental outcomes of these activities. Food systems in developing countries have been largely transformed by globalization. This change offers tremendous opportunities for food workers to access new and better employments. Yet, small scale food producers and other food workers are still too often excluded from the benefits generated by food businesses.

A major concentration of the control over agricultural inputs in global value chains and a difficult access to assets, such as land, water for irrigation, financial services,  and markets, represent strong barriers for the poor in rural areas. For this reason, the rural poor have few opportunities to secure decent work in food systems. This is due to the lack of relevant vocational training offer, the often fragile agricultural institutions and services, the weak bargaining power of small holders, in particular young producers, and the gaps in the legal framework and labour law coverage.

The role of FAO:

FAO believes that ensuring the access to decent farm and non-farm employment for the rural poor in food systems is critical to realize sustainable food systems.

That is why FAO is aiming at:

  • Promoting agricultural and food security policies sensitive to working conditions and able to implement protective coping mechanisms against shocks, taking into account gender and age differentiations.
  • Enabling the adoption of sectoral codes of conduct that embed decent rural employment aspects.
  • Supporting the implementation of the principles for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems which favour employment generation and foster decent work.
  • Supporting governments in developing specific employment creation investments plans. 

To achieve these results, FAO is partnering with sister UN agencies (such as ILO, UNDP, UNIDO), international financial institutions and development banks (such as IFAD, AfDB, CDB), research institutes, private sector, and civil society.