Youth in agriculture

Potato work in the North Rift (Kenya), Photo: Hugh Rutherford for CIP

Context - Key Resources - Projects - Community


Global population is expected to increase to 9 billion by 2050, with youth (aged 15–24) accounting for about 14 percent of this total (WPP). In Africa alone, over sixty percent of Africa's estimated 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25 (FAO). However, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth remain limited, poorly remunerated and of poor quality – particularly for those living in developing countries' economically stagnant rural areas (OECD). By and large, rural youth do not perceive agriculture as a remunerative or prestigious profession. Until they find meaningful economic opportunities and attractive environments in rural areas, they will continue to migrate to cities. This trend not only contributes to the emerging phenomenon of over-urbanization and growing unemployment in urban areas, but is also expected to affect global food production.

​​The challenges for rural youth

In rural areas, young people are often unemployed or underemployed and rural youth face many hurdles in trying to earn a livelihood (FAO). This is why MIJARC/FAO/IFAD carried out a joint 'mouvement international de la jeunesse agricole et rurale catholique' project on Facilitating Access of Rural Youth to Agricultural Activities in 2011 to assess the challenges and opportunities with respect to increasing rural youth's participation in the sector.

Over the course of the project, six principal challenges were identified:     

  1. Insufficient access to knowledge, information and education
  2. Limited access to land
  3. Inadequate access to financial services
  4. Difficulties accessing green jobs
  5. Limited access to markets
  6. Limited involvement in policy dialogue

Investing in young people living in rural areas, by addressing the six principal challenges, is therefore key to enhancing agricultural productivity, boosting rural economies and ensuring food security, and ultimately addressing the significant untapped potential of this sizeable and growing demographic.


SDC's approach

The countries in SDC's Agriculture and Food Security Network supporting youth in agriculture address the above core challenges of youth employment (SET, OYE). Knowledge dispersion and enabling access to good and promising practices along the value-chain ensure that efficient structures are put in place to facilitate the cooperation between public and private sectors to create relevant training opportunities for young people in agriculture. Making rural life and rural jobs more attractive to youth will require tapping into the potential of agricultural value chains, and understanding the opportunities and challenges of food and agriculture systems in low-middle-income countries.

The thematic working group 'rural youth' (TWG RY) of the Global Donor Platform on Rural Development (GDPRD) has the objective of promoting meaningful youth engagement in all stages of donor initiatives in agriculture and rural development. Support and advocate for the future of agriculture and rural development by joining the GDPRDs 'rural youth' thematic working group!

The SDC also supports the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) movement, a global and regional network platform. Through YPARD, young professionals are engaged in activities to facilitate and promote the entry into research and development in the field of environmental and agricultural sciences. The SDC promotes and encourages young professionals to share their views and ideas through a global discussion platform. This is meant to enable and empower young agricultural leaders around the world to establish sustainable food systems (SDC on YPARD).

Key resources

Insights into Youth Networks
Working around Agriculture and Rural Development in Africa
Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, February 2020

Youth and Agriculture: Key Challenges and Concrete Solutions
FAO / CTA / IFAD, 2014

Youth Employment in Agriculture as a Solid Solution to ending Hunger and Poverty in Africa
Engaging through ICTs and Entrepreneurship. Conference organized by FAO, Rwanda Ministry of Agriculture and the African Union
20-21 August 2018

The Future of Rural Youth in Developing Countries: Tapping the Potential of Local Value Chains
OECD Development Centre Studies, 2018

Young and ready to move - Empowering the new generation in the rural areas
Manuel Flury and Ueli Mauderli in: Newsletter A+FS and e+i / June 2018

Facilitating access of rural youth to agricultural activities
Summary of the findings of the project implemented by MIJARC in collaboration with FAO and IFA, 2012

Integrated Country Approach for promoting decent rural employment
FAO Programme

Time to act
Peter Wobst and David Schwebel in Rural21, 03/2017

for futher resources see also YPARD E-Library


Economic prospects for young people in rural areas (Egypt)
The project promotes enterprises in the agricultural, livestock breeding and fisheries sectors to create new jobs and provide young people with an alternative to migrating to urban centres.
Overview of context and aim (SDC project database)

Opportunities For Youth Employment (Tanzania)
The project aims to improve the livelihoods of young women and men by developing and expanding their set of skills and by matching them with existing rural job markets and opportunities.
Overview of context and aim (SDC project database)

Scaling-up youth employment in agriculture initiative (Southern and Eastern Africa)
SDC contribution to a regional initiative combining well-targeted skills training, capacity building and support to enter formal and informal economies
Overview of context and aim (SDC project database)


Young Professional for Agricultural Development Platform YPARD 
YPARD is an international movement by Young Professionals for Young Professionals for Agricultural Development. This global online and offline platform is meant to enable and empower young agricultural leaders around the world to shape sustainable food systems.

Global Donor Platform’s Thematic Working Group on Rural Youth
This working group was started to promote meaningful youth engagement in all stages of donor initiatives in agriculture and rural development.


Pascal Rouamba
SDC National Program Officer, Burkina Faso