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Young People and Agrifood
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Future Farmers? Exploring Youth Aspirations for African Agriculture
Demographic trends point to more young people in the African population than ever before – approximately 70 percent of Africa’s 1 billion people is under the age of 30. Across the continent many young people are reportedly choosing not to pursue livelihoods in agriculture, especially as farmers. If this is the case there are clear implications for the future of African agriculture, at a time of renewed government, donor and private sector investment in the sector given its links to economic growth, poverty reduction and food security.
Young People and Agri-food: Aspirations, Opportunities and Challenges

CAADP Policy Brief 09by Kate Wellard-Dyer

African governments, international agencies and NGOs are calling for policies which pay more attention to young people and agriculture.  This policy brief draws on research findings by Future Agricultures and asks: What are the expectations and aspirations of young rural men and women? What are the constraints and opportunities facing young people who wish to engage in productive agriculture? How can policies better support young people to engage successfully in the agri-food sector?

French version: Les Jeunes et L’agroalimentaire: Aspirations, Opportunités et Défis
Becoming a young farmer in Ethiopia: Processes and challenges

Working Paper 83 Getnet Tadele and Asrat Ayalew Gella

The Ethiopian government’s Agricultural Development Led Industrialization strategy emphasises the instrumental role that rural youth could play in transforming the agricultural sector. However, there exists a significant body of literature documenting the unfavourable attitudes many young people hold towards a future in agriculture. Despite their negative attitudes, the fact remains that many rural youth are likely to adopt farming as their principal or only means of livelihood, either by choice or the lack of other options. Rural youth encounter a number of insurmountable problems when they set out to be farmers. Other than attitudinal issues, the many difficulties that young people in Ethiopia have to traverse in the process of becoming a farmer, even when they are willing to be one, have not been adequately explored. Drawing from two different qualitative studies of rural youth in three farming communities in the Amhara and SNNP regions, this paper explores the process(es) through which rural youth enter into and become farmers, and the challenges and opportunities they come across in this transition. Focus group discussions and in-depth interviews with different groups of rural youth as well as older farmers and key informant interviews with different stakeholders were conducted in 2011 and 2012.

Overall, our findings show that education, access to land, asset base, gender and local context are important factors which significantly affect who becomes a farmer and who does not. Our findings particularly draw attention to the influence of education and gender. The impact of being educated, both in terms of its effect on the desirability of a future in farming as well as complicating later entry into farming, is one that needs to be recognised by policymakers. The role of gender in young men’s and women’s choice to become farmers, the routes they take to becoming farmers and the lives they lead as farmers is also a key area for further research and policy dialogue. Finally, facilitating meaningful access to land for rural youth along with the expansion of both on-farm and off-farm livelihood opportunities in the agri-food continuum is another area which needs to be addressed urgently.

Changing elderly & changing youth: Knowledge exchange & labour allocation in southern Guinea-Bissau

Full title: Changing elderly and changing youth: Knowledge exchange and labour allocation in a village of southern Guinea-Bissau

Working Paper 81 Joana Sousa, Ansomane Dabo and Ana Luisa Luz

The Nalu people in Cablola, a small village in southern Guinea-Bissau, practice a mixed farming system that includes upland farms, mangrove rice fields and orchards. People produce a wide array of crops for the purchase of rice, which is the main staple food. Currently in Guinea-Bissau the cashew nut is the main cash crop, which is extensively sold and/or bartered for rice for household consumption. Even though local people experience rice scarcity.

In villages nearby to Cablola, many Balanta people are devoted to mangrove rice farming and are experts on this farming system, which requires considerable knowledge, skill and labour. Mangrove rice farming produces higher yields than upland rice farming, and although there was some production recovery recently, mangrove rice production has been largely abandoned in the region. In 2010, the youngsters in Cablola founded an association, known as Youngsters Unite. The recovery of mangrove rice farming, and particularly the role of the association in this work, has been challenging old and present-day leaderships, (re)negotiating relationships and trust, and promoting knowledge exchange between both elders and youngsters and between the Balanta and the Nalu people. The association, within its social context, has boosted the ‘courage’, as farmers say, needed to build a dyke with mud and hand plough.

Rice, cows and envy: agriculture and change among young rice producers in Guinea-Bissau

Working Paper 86 Manuel Bivar and Marina Padrão Temudo

In Guinea-Bissau, a country on the West African coast between Senegal, the Republic of Guinea and the Atlantic, rice is the staple food. During the past three decades, agriculture in Guinea- Bissau has undergone a radical transformation. In Guinea-Bissau, there is a common discourse that young people have abandoned the fields and migrated to the city. A process of ‘depeasantization’ has been described, which implies a decline in the time spent working in agriculture, in the income earned from agriculture and in household coherence as a labour unit, leading to rural out-migration. However, the ethnography of the Balanta-Nhacra rural world presented in this paper suggests a process which is far more complex. When we analyse processes of ‘depeasantization’ in the African context, structural factors must also be taken into account.

Social Protection for Agricultural Growth
Various explanations have been advanced for the persistent under?performance of agriculturein many African countries, where smallholder farming is still the dominant livelihood activityand the main source of employment, food and income. Some of the oldest argumentsremain the most compelling. African farmers face harsh agro?ecologies and erratic weather,characterised by low soil fertility, recurrent droughts and/or floods, and increasinglyunpredictable weather patterns associated with climate change. Vulnerability to shocks iscompounded by infrastructure deficits (roads and transport networks, telecommunications,potable water and irrigation) that keep poor communities poor and vulnerable, as testifiedby the phenomenon observed during livelihood crises of steep food price gradients fromisolated rural villages to densely settled urban centres. African farmers have also beeninadequately protected against the forces of globalisation and adverse international terms oftrade – for instance, Western farmers and markets are heavily protected in ways that Africanfarmers and markets are not.
Young People and Policy Narratives in sub-Saharan Africa

by Nana Akua Anyidoho, Happy Kayuni, John Ndungu, Jennifer Leavy, Mohamadou Sall, Getnet Tadele and James Sumberg

FAC Working Paper 32

This paper is about the portrayal of youth in policy documentation in sub-Saharan Africa. Historically, young people’s engagement with policy and the array of institutions that affect their lives can be characterised by two broad, interacting themes: marginalisation and mobilisation. Marginalisation is associated with deeply rooted tendencies to defer to age in ‘gerontocratic’ societies (see, for example, Harris 2004), leaving young people outside circles of power, or lacking in ‘voice’ (see also te Lintelo 2011). This can lead to youth disaffection, which may either catalyse young people to mobilise, or make them a fertile recruiting ground for the political projects of others (e.g. Peters et al 2003; Peters and Richards 1998; Richards 1995). Thus, mobilisation can be seen to be, at least in part, a consequence of isolation and disempowerment. These themes are evident, to varying degrees, in each of five study countries we focus on in this paper: Ethiopia; Ghana; Kenya; Malawi; and Senegal. It is based on a review of key national policy documents and other formal policy documentation in the five countries. The review sought to discover how rural youth and youth-related issues are portrayed. Major policy domains were considered including: agriculture and rural development; education; health; employment; economic development; crime and security; natural resource management; and climate change. The analysis focused on the visibility of young people within the policy domain; the content of policy frames and narratives on young people; and linkages between youth and agriculture.

Young people, agriculture, and employment in rural Africa

WIDER Working Paper 2014/080 James Sumberg,  Nana Akua Anyidoho,  Michael Chasukwa, Blessings Chinsinga, Jennifer Leavy, Getnet Tadele, Stephen Whitfield, and Joseph Yaro April 2014

This paper examines the current interest in addressing the problem of young people’s unemployment in Africa through agriculture. Using notions of transitions and mobilities we set out a transformative work and opportunity space framework that privileges difference and diversity among work opportunities, rural areas and young people. We argue that policy and programmes that seek to engage young people with agriculture must be more realistic, rooted in more context-specific economic and social analysis, and appreciative of the variety of ways that rural men and women use agriculture to serve their needs and interests.

Youth and policy processes

Dolf te Lintelo August 2011

The rapid and sustained increase in the number of young people in the global south is one of today’s most significant demographic trends. Around 90 percent of young people reside in developing countries (Shankar 2010). By 2030 Africa is projected to have as many youth as East Asia and by 2050 could also exceed the youth population in South Asia (Garcia and Fares, 2008). Young people make up approximately 30 percent of the total population in African countries, and this is increasing fast (Panday 2006). Growing numbers of young people entail a process of demographic change within societies; ‘rejuvenation’ in a literal sense. Thus, in 2005, 76 percent of the Zambian population were under 30 years of age, with those between 20 and 29 years accounting for a mere 18 percent (CSO 2007, p.12 in: Locke and Verschoor 2007).

Whereas some expert commentators are pessimistic about the prospects for economic growth and poverty reduction in Africa (e.g. Collier 2008), youth bulges are recognised by many as a window of opportunity. They are seen to potentially offer a demographic dividend: where a larger workforce with fewer dependents could generate strong economic growth (Fares and Garcia, 2008; Gunatilake et al, 2010). Yet, experiences to date are mixed: while in East Asia, the policy and institutional environment facilitated the harnessing of the demographic dividend to achieve strong growth, similar demographic dynamics in Latin America failed to yield better economic outcomes (Fares and Garcia, 2008).

Future Farmers: Youth Aspirations, Expectations and Life Choices

Jennifer Leavy and Sally Smith June 2010

Young people constitute a high and increasing proportion of the African population, with around 70 percent of the continent’s total population currently under the age of 30. Evidence suggests many young people are choosing not to pursue livelihoods in the agriculture sector, especially as farmers, which may have implications for national and international efforts to drive economic growth through investments in agriculture. An understanding of the aspirations of rural youth and the links between aspirations and career decisions will be critical if agricultural policies achieve their intended outcomes. This paper establishes the foundations for a programme of research by the Future Agricultures Consortium, based on a review of existing research on youth aspirations, expectations and life choices. It describes the dynamic processes through which aspirations are formed, shaped and influenced by economic context, social norms and customs, parental and peer influence, media, previous attainment and gender relations, and relates this to the agrarian context of sub-Saharan Africa. The paper concludes with a series of tentative hypotheses about youth aspirations, how they link to outcomes in the rural African context, and the implications for agricultural policy and practice.

Les Jeunes et L’agroalimentaire: Aspirations, Opportunités et Défis

CAADP Point Info 09par Kate Wellard-Dyer

Les gouvernements africains, les organismes internationaux et les ONG ont besoin de politiques qui soient davantage centrées sur les jeunes et sur l’agriculture.  Ce point info s’appuie sur les conclusions d’études menées par Future Agricultures et pose plusieurs questions: Quelles sont les attentes et les aspirations des jeunes hommes et femmes vivant dans les zones rurales? Quelles sont les contraintes et les opportunités pour les jeunes qui souhaitent s’engager dans une activité agricole productive? De quelle manière les politiques peuvent-elles apporter un soutien de meilleure qualité aux jeunes pour qu’ils réussissent à prendre part au secteur de l’agroalimentaire?

Les Transactions Foncières à Grande échelle, la Sécurité Alimentaire et les Moyens de Subsistance

Titre complet: Les Transactions Foncières à Grande échelle, la Sécurité Alimentaire et les Moyens de Subsistance au Niveau Local

Point info CAADP 10par Kate Wellard-Dyer

Les acquisitions foncières étrangères à grande échelle (accaparement de terres), constituent une préoccupation majeure et réelle pour les populations africaines. Les conséquences des transactions foncières sont très significatives pour les populations locales, et pour l’environnement. Certains y voient des opportunités financières pour les communautés locales, par le biais de l’emploi et des revenus générés par la location ou la vente des terrains. D’autres considèrent que l’aliénation des terres représente une menace majeure pour les moyens de subsistance au niveau local, pour la sécurité alimentaire et l’environnement. Il s’agit de déterminer si des modèles 'gagnant-gagnant' existent, profitables aux populations locales, tout en fournissant un retour financier pour les investisseurs. Le présent point info s’appuie sur les dernières études de Future Agricultures. Il formule plusieurs questions : Quels sont les moteurs des transactions foncières à grande échelle en Afrique et qui sont les principaux acteurs dans ces transactions ? Quel est l’impact des transactions foncières sur les moyens de subsistance et la sécurité alimentaire des utilisateurs actuels des terres? Que peuvent faire les gouvernements pour protéger les moyens de subsistance des petits exploitants?

Young People and Agriculture in Africa
Sumberg, J. and Wellard, K. IDS Bulletin 43.6 Publisher IDS Buy a copy of this Bulletin from the IDS website View abstracts and subscribe to this IDS Bulletin Despite increased commitment to evidence-based policy in African agriculture, the profile of certain 'problems', and the imperative to address them quickly through policy and programmes, becomes separated from evidence and understanding. When this happens, policy advocates, policymakers and development planners rely heavily on 'common knowledge', anecdote and narrative to develop and argue policy alternatives. This is unlikely to result in good policy and development outcomes, particularly when the problems being addressed are associated with complexities such as poverty, livelihoods, agrarian transitions, social justice or sustainability. It is important to ask how common policy responses articulate with ongoing economic, social and political transitions, and with young people's own imperatives, aspirations, strategies and activities.

In March 2012 the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research co-hosted an international conference on 'Young People, Farming and Food' in Accra, Ghana. This conference examined how young people engage with the agri-food sector in Africa and how research findings were being integrated into policy processes. It also explored the dynamics of change in different components of the agri-food sector and the implications for young people.

The articles in this IDS Bulletin are drawn from the conference. They discuss social and economic structures, aspirations, livelihoods, land and policy, and illustrate the multiple dimensions, scales and complex dynamics of the young people and agriculture 'problem' – and why simplistic 'solutions' are likely to fail. It is hoped that this collection will stimulate the research to fill an evidence gap of very significant proportions.

Introduction: The Young People and Agriculture 'Problem' in AfricaJames Sumberg, Nana Akua Anyidoho, Jennifer Leavy, Dolf te Lintelo and Kate Wellard

Agriculture and the Generation Problem: Rural Youth, Employment and the Future of FarmingBen White

Perceptions and Aspirations: A Case Study of Young People in Ghana's Cocoa SectorNana Akua Anyidoho, Jennifer Leavy and Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere

'A Last Resort and Often Not an Option at All': Farming and Young People in EthiopiaGetnet Tadele and Asrat Ayalew Gella

Quick Money and Power: Tomatoes and Livelihood Building in Rural Brong Ahafo, GhanaChristine Okali and James Sumberg

Youth Farming and Nigeria's Development Dilemma: The Shonga ExperimentJoseph Ayodele Ariyo and Michael Mortimore

Youth, Agriculture and Land Grabs in MalawiBlessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa

Land Policies and Labour Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Law and Economics AnalysisLuis Tomás Montilla Fernández

Young People in African (Agricultural) Policy Processes? What National Youth Policies Can Tell UsDolf J.H. te Lintelo

Media competition: winning entries

We're delighted to announce the winners of our Africa-wide journalism competition on young people, farming and food.

We had over 40 submissions to the competition. The panel was all agreed in the winning entries according to the following criteria:

1. Creative angle; 2 Concise; 3. Style; 4. Voices/quotes used including young people.

The winners and runners-up are listed below, followed by links to download the print entries and listen to the audio.

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HOT TOPIC: Reframing the ‘young people – agriculture nexus’

Are young people’s life aspirations and the vision of a dynamic agricultural sector in conflict?

Policy interest in the ‘young people – agriculture nexus’ in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), when it is evident, is framed by a combination of narratives relating to: food security and the importance of agriculture to the national economy; modernisation of the agricultural sector; ageing of the farm population; young people as ‘the nation’s future’; young people’s changing life aspirations; unemployment and underemployment; increased vulnerability of young people associated with rural – urban migration (e.g. STDs, drugs, crime); and the poor living conditions and employment prospects that rural young people encounter when they migrate to urban.

A number of framing assumptions can be identified including: Read more...

HOT TOPIC: Agribusiness, FAC and young people

Many researchers and development professionals with an interest in poverty, agriculture and rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) view agribusiness with suspicion. For them, agribusiness is synonymous with big business, transnational corporations, globalisation, international capital, export crops and large-scale plantations. More often than not, these are seen to culminate in the exploitation of local people and resources. The book Agribusiness in Africa, written by Barbara Dinham and Colin Hines in 1984, articulates many of the arguments which underpin this hostility. While the research literature addressing the structure and roles of large-scale agribusiness in SSA is limited, some examples and insights supporting these arguments can be gained from work relating to contract farming, international value chains and more recently, large-scale land deals.

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Future Farmers
Youth’s inclination toward agriculture and future farmers was highlighted in regional consultations. Schools children were asked to describe their homes in the past present and future. We put the images that children created on display. Their views far surpassed their age.

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Youth Aspirations and Expectations

FAC Future Farmers has launched a programme of research on youth aspirations for 2010-11. African rural youth have experienced significant changes in their economic, social and cultural contexts over the past few decades. Globalisation, urbanisation and migration, as well as fast evolving communication and media technology, connect them more than ever to the outside world. Inequalities resulting from under-investment and slow growth, especially in the agriculture sector, are increasingly visible to people living in rural areas.

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Africa's Future Farmers

The economic, social and cultural contexts of agriculture are changing fast, as evidenced by significant shifts in the patterns of food production and consumption. An increasingly globalised world also means that there is now greater access to fast-evolving communication and media technology, which improves information flows and adds to the feeling that the world is getting smaller. However, development and growth processes still move at different speeds in different locations, even within countries. These inequalities are increasingly visible to people living in remote rural areas, often characterised by under-investment and slow growth.

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