Agriculture plays a significant role in achieving global food and nutrition security, increasing economic growth and environmental sustainability. Representing nearly 40% of the global workforce, agriculture is the world’s largest provider of jobs and employs more than 1.3 billion people.
Transforming agriculture into a more productive, sustainable, competitive and efficient sector requires a transfer of modern knowledge and skills to develop talent in agriculture. It means upgrading and retraining the current agricultural workforce. It means retaining people with skills. It means attracting new staff and expanding the range of career opportunities available in the agriculture-food-nutrition-environment nexus. Above all, it means creating incentives and campaigns that encourage young people to consider agriculture as one of the best career options.
Youth involvement is essential to increase global agricultural productivity.
Formative agricultural education, whether through direct involvement in agricultural practices with emphasis on environmental sustainability or through entrepreneurial work, increases rural youth’s connection to the local environment, their perception of agriculture’s impact on the local community, and their aspirations for a career in agriculture.
Stakeholder investments in education that engages young people in sustainable production methods and provides opportunities for greater market engagement and innovation, can help young people consider agriculture as a career option.
To stimulate interest in agriculture, a broader shift in young people’s experiences and changes at the national and international levels are needed. Given the demographic diversity of youth, both urban and rural youth should be involved as partners in decision-making at the local and national levels.
What is encouraging is that many examples of initiatives targeting rural youth have emerged in recent years that have highlighted new approaches and methodologies for developing young people’s capacity to engage in agriculture. Many of these initiatives have considerable potential to be adapted to different contexts and to be scaled up.
It is important to ensure that lessons learned from these initiatives are documented and integrated into planning and policy agendas.
Moreover, several studies highlights the important role played by learning outside formal institutions, such as informal learning from parents and peers, for rural youth in acquiring both traditional and new knowledge and skills, and the need to strengthen links between informal, nonformal and formal learning as part of lifelong learning.