Youth in agriculture: Special session of the 2012 Farmers' Forum
Date: 18 February 2012 – 09:00-17:00
Venue: IFAD Headquarters - Italian Conference Room
Over 60 per cent of the world's rural population is made of youth, with half of them being young women and girls. Due to their limited access to assets (in particular land), markets, finance and education and skills training, rural youth are often unemployed or work informally – often in unpaid, very low-skilled, insecure and sometimes hazardous jobs. If young people living in rural areas do not find enough incentives, profitable economic opportunities and attractive environments in which to live and work, they will continue to migrate to cities. This trend would not only contribute to the mega urbanization and growing urban unemployment that is already under way, but is expected to affect global food production: who will then feed the global population that is projected to reach 9.2 billion people by 2050?
In his opening statement to the Farmers' Forum in 2010, the President of IFAD, Kanayo F. Nwanze emphasized the need to invest in "the rural youth of today, the farmers of tomorrow". Investing in young people living in rural areas is key to enhancing agricultural productivity and food security, boosting rural economies, and reducing rural-to-urban migration. Young people have enormous potential for the innovation and risk-taking that is often at the core of growth and development in rural areas, particularly in smallholder agriculture. Young farmers and producers often have greater capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship than older adults. This capacity may better equip them to address the emerging requirements of agriculture and the rural non-farm economy.
The 2010 Farmers' Forum also emphasized the "urgent need to address young farmers" through a greater focus on youth issues in programmes and policies, but also through a stronger participation of young rural people themselves – and young rural women in particular – in decision-making processes.
Extract from the Synthesis of Deliberations of the 2010 Global Meeting of The Farmers' Forum
Investing in Young Farmers
We all share a recognition of the urgent need to address young farmers. Our family agriculture needs to be remunerative and give dignity. Young women and men farmers' access to production assets – land, credit, training – has to be ensured. In this regard, we recommend that IFAD:
- map young farmer and rural youth organizations and their networks (national and regional);
- hold a Farmers' Forum event similar to the one held for women this year and ensure more representation of young people in subsequent Farmers' Fora;
- designate within IFAD a focal point for youth;
- hold a global workshop on youth involvement in sustainable agriculture and rural development during this year (UN Year of Youth );
- mainstream youth in all IFAD policies and programmes, with a gender balance; and an emphasis on developing capacity-building and enhancement programmes for rural youth to engage in sustainable food production and agriculture and rural employment;
- launch pilot projects supporting rural youth;
- organize youth exchanges to share experiences on best practices and learning
In response to the Farmers' Forum recommendations, IFAD provided a grant for "Facilitating Youth Access to Agricultural Activities" to the International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC). This initiative was implemented in collaboration with FAO. As part of this project a mapping and survey exercise was conducted to analyse the presence of young people in farmers' organizations and their challenges and needs in terms of engaging in agriculture. The mapping was sent out to more than 800 organizations in all developed and developing regions in the world, and approximately 442 replies were received, mostly from Africa and Latin America. The organizations that replied received an on-line survey for further investigation. Approximately 26 per cent of the organizations that replied consist of only young farmers.
Regional consultations were then held in Africa, Asia and Latin America involving young rural women and men who had participated in the mapping and survey exercise. Recommendations were drafted on strategies, approaches and incentives for rural youth to become successful farmers and rural entrepreneurs.
The special preparatory session on youth aims to respond to the recommendations of the third meeting of the Farmers' Forum (2010) and to share experiences and views of young rural people from different regions. It will constitute a platform to discuss and fine-tune the recommendations that came out from the regional consultations. Ultimately, the event aims to contribute to inform the formulation of successful policies and programmes on how to best support young farmers and rural entrepreneurs.
The session will consolidate the deliberations and recommendations made by and for rural youth and will prepare key action points and proposals to be submitted to the Farmers' Forum for inclusion in its recommendations to IFAD Management and Governing Council. In this way, the session will enable rural youth to have a voice in the Farmers' Forum and influence discussions at the institutional level. It is expected that these action points and proposals will directly contribute to the improvement of the relevance and effectiveness of IFAD-funded programmes for young farmers and rural entrepreneurs.
Organization of the special session on youth
The special session on Youth in Agriculture will take place on Saturday, 18 February 2012 at IFAD Headquarters. Following the presentation of the project conducted by MIJARC in collaboration with FAO, a roundtable discussion on other IFAD-supported initiatives engaging rural youth will be held. In the afternoon, working groups will discuss and fine-tune with IFAD staff members the recommendations drafted during the regional consultations organised by MIJARC.
The event will bring together about 30 young farmers and rural entrepreneurs, including: participants in the regional consultations in Africa, Asia and Latin America; young farmer representatives or leaders nominated by regional and international Farmers' Organisations; and the members of the Steering Committee of the Farmers' Forum. The selection of participants will take into consideration sub-regional/country and gender balance.