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Shaping the rural economies of tomorrow

Our world is home to 1.2 billion young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and the youth population is growing fastest in the poorest nations. Governments around the world face the challenge of providing young people with jobs and opportunities that safeguard their futures.

In rural areas, home to a total of 600 million youth, the challenges are particularly complex. Constraints on access to land, natural resources, finance, technology, knowledge, information and education make it difficult for young people to contribute to the rural economy.

Few aspire to remain in rural areas and make a living out of agriculture. Too often, their only option is to migrate, either to urban areas or overseas.

Young producers, leaders and innovators

At IFAD, we understand that investing in rural youth is crucial for dynamic rural economic growth, and our portfolio of investments increasingly focuses on young people as a priority.

The potential returns of investing in young people are boundless in terms of food security, poverty reduction, employment generation, as well as peace and political stability.

Young people are better at taking risks, innovating and adopting new technology. These skills will be critical for reforming food systems and  adapting to the global challenge of climate change.

Bringing young voices to the table

IFAD-supported projects and activities help young people access the resources, assets and services they need to be productive and have a positive impact on their communities.

We promote youth-sensitive development, incorporating the needs and aspirations of young people into many of our projects, and supporting innovative proposals and initiatives.

We also provide training and support to create rural employment and enterprise options that are appropriate for young people, in both the farm and the non-farm sector.

IFAD is also committed to increasing youth representation in domestic and policy processes, and to promoting the importance of giving young people a decision-making role.

This will allow young people to address the specific challenges they face, share their ideas, and enhance their social and political capital at both local and national levels.


Empowering rural youth in West and Central Africa

Projections indicate that Africa will remain predominantly rural until about 2035. Rural poverty remains deep and widespread, concentrated among young people and women in the region.




Ghana Agriculture Sector Investment Programme (GASIP)
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Economic Inclusion Programme for Families and Rural Communities in the Territory of the Plurinational State of Bolivia (ACCESOS)
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Youth Agropastoral Entrepreneurship Promotion Programme
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Related publications

How to do note: Youth access to rural finance

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​IFAD’s mission is to invest in rural people, with the objective of overcoming poverty. Young people have increasingly become a priority target for IFAD as part of the agency’s fight against rural poverty (IFAD, 2014a).

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The global population is projected to rise from its present level of 6.9 billion to 9.2 billion by 2050. An estimated 1 billion people already are going hungry, and young rural people are increasingly disillusioned about working in the agricultural sector, which in many countries is stagnant and unproductive. So the question must be asked: Who is going to feed this growing world population?

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Young women and men who live in rural areas are the world’s future farmers, entrepreneurs and leaders. The challenges of meeting future food demand, developing vibrant rural centres and promoting broad-based economic growth in developing countries depend on them. These are compelling reasons to place rural young people and smallholder agriculture at the forefront of global strategies for food security, poverty reduction and income growth.
LANGUAGES: English, French

Contact us

For questions please contact Mattia Prayer Galletti,

Lead Technical Specialist - Rural Development and Institutions,

+39 0654592294