Youth in Agriculture
Agriculture plays a significant role in achieving global food and nutrition security, increasing economic growth, and attaining environmental sustainability. Representing close to 40% of the global workforce, agriculture is the world’s largest provider of jobs, employing over 1.3 billion people. To transform agriculture into a more productive, sustainable, competitive, and efficient sector, demands modern knowledge and skill transfer to develop talent in agriculture. It means up-skilling and re-tooling of the current agricultural workforce. It means retaining people with skills. It means attracting new personnel and expanding the range of career opportunities available in the agriculture-food-nutrition-environment nexus. Most importantly, it means creating incentives and campaigns that encourage young people to see agriculture as a one of the best options for a career choice.
Through 2022, a series of regional events were held to promote youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems. These events featured the voices of youth, focused on their needs and encouraged participants to create partnerships, share knowledge, expertise, and technology in their respective countries, and collect input to validate the zero draft and support the work from the youth workstream at CFS 2022 negotiations. Watch the dialogues and read the case studies:
North America & Pacific Youth Dialogue
Latin America and Caribbean Youth Dialogue
Africa Youth Dialogue
Europe & Asia Youth Dialogue
Global Youth Forum
Case Studies (Click to view virtual gallery)
2020 & 2021
2020 & 2021
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 did not see an official CFS session. Instead, 2021 saw an extraordinary year for CFS with three official sessions occurring in February, June, and October. The Private Sector Mechanism was able to virtually take part in all three sessions through interventions and side events.
In October 2021, language on farmers, fishers, and entrepreneurship was included in the youth discussion to enlarge the discussion from waged-employment alone.
Nala Muller, CEO of Europe Africa Solutions, spoke on behalf of PSM to promote youth engagement and employment in agriculture. Her full intervention is available here and includes recommendations for programs to recruit talent into agriculture.
UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS46)
In 2019, the topic of the youth debate was “Should we attract youth to traditional agricultural systems? Or should agricultural systems be disrupted to fit the youth’s context today?”
The debate was hosted by H.E. Hans Hoogeveen and was key in celebrating the value of differing perspectives on how to engage and attract youth to agriculture.
Youth Members also participated in meeting with the outgoing CFS Chair, H.E. Mario Arvelo, as well as the incoming CFS Chair, Mr Thanawat Tiensin.
Another successful meeting was held with youth focal points from the RBAs to discuss current projects at country level, the type of support needed for youth in their programmes and how youth can identify/develop the skills to jointly participate in RBA projects. On Friday, the plenary session was dedicated to the youth in the following format:
Part 1: Highlights of CFS46 Session, the Side Events and SDG2
Youth delegates gave their feedback on the CFS session and the Side Events, highlighting items that they thought most effectively accelerated progress on SDG 2.
Part 2: Youth and the CFS Multi-Year Programme of Work 2020-2023
Youth delegates kicked off this item by discussing the MYPoW, especially the proposed “youth”-themed workstream, “Putting youth at the centre: engaging youth in FSN policies and practices; and promoting (rural) decent jobs for youth in agriculture and food systems.” They also put forward ideas on how a youth lens can be mainstreamed across the other proposed workstreams.
Part 3: Youth and CFS policy work
The session explored the question – “How can youth support the uptake of existing and future CFS policy recommendations and guidelines?” What actions and steps can be taken by government and other actors to ensure that youth are involved and engaged in food security and nutrition policy-making in their national context?
Ambassador Hans offered the seat of the Netherlands to be taken by youth delegates to deliver a statement during the MYPoW plenary session. Tiare Boyes (@WestCoastTiare), Commercial Fisher from Canada, took the floor and delivered her statement on behalf of the youth.
The CFS46 Youth Special Event summary prepared by the youth delegates may be accessed here: http://www.fao.org/cfs/home/plenary/cfs46/en/
IAFN is already thinking about how to continue meaningfully engaging young agricultural leaders in 2019 and beyond. Current events include:
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Governing Council Meetings, February 14-15, Rome, Italy: We will be present at the IFAD Governing Council meetings and will coordinate a special event on access of young people to finance.
Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference, March 9-16, Des Moines, Iowa: Nuffield International is an extraordinary program that supports high-potential young farmers in traveling the world for 4-6 months as they explore an agricultural research question of their choice. The IAFN Secretariat will attend the Contemporary Scholars Conference to demonstrate to Nuffield scholars how they can incorporate participation in food policy procedures into their existing work.
Nuffield International Contemporary Scholars Conference, March 5-11, Netherlands: The IAFN Secretariat attended Nuffield’s Contemporary Scholars Conference, in part to encourage the Scholars to engage with IAFN in the context of upcoming FAO conferences, including CFS45 and Regional Biotech Meetings.
UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS45): At the Committee on World Food Security 2018 (CFS45), the Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) hosted our popular annual event, the High Level Dinner, the theme of which was “Youth in Agriculture.” The Dinner was structured to celebrate accomplishments of diverse young agriculture leaders and lead guests in productive discussion on how to engage, attract, and retain youth in ag.
2017 marked a year filled with exciting initiatives for youth in agriculture via IAFN. Highlights include:
Young Agricultural Leaders at FAO Regional Biotech Conferences: IAFN is proud to have supported a diverse group of private sector actors, including several young farmers and agripreneurs, to attend FAO Regional Meetings on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Sustainable Food Systems and Nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa (November) and another in Asia (September). Read about attendees’ experiences here.
Youth Delegation at CFS44: Nuffield International brought 8 outstanding scholars to CFS44, which took place in Rome, Italy on October 9-13.
They were featured on the panel of a highly popular side event called “What Today’s Young Agricultural Leaders Need to Meet Tomorrow’s SDG Challenges.” IAFN also organized attendance by young ag leaders from Mexico and Kenya. Together, this group of inspiring young people made interventions at plenary, networked with members of IAFN, attended the High Level Dinner, attended side events, and met with the DG of the FAO. Their insights were well-received by the private sector, civil society, and high-level officials alike. Read some of their thoughts here.
Youth in Ag Luncheon at the High-Level Political Forum: On July 13th, in the context of HLPF, IAFN hosted the Agriculture and Food Day, the goal of which was raise awareness of the critical need for investment in SDG2. The day included a focused plenary session, a series of roundtable discussions on interlinkages of the SDGs, and a dynamic luncheon featuring youth in agriculture. Read more about it here.
UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS42):
Given the critical need to attract and train a new generation of farmers, farm leaders, agribusiness workers and managers, the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) held a special event on October 15th, 2015, in Rome on “Developing the knowledge, skills and talent of youth to further food security and nutrition”. This interactive discussion surrounded lessons learned and potential policy implications on how to develop the knowledge, skills and talent of youth. Hlami Ngwenya of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) was there to represent the Private Sector Mechanism on the panel.
Youth were also encouraged to pitch their ideas for making agriculture more attractive to young talent through a new initiative, the CFS 42 Youth for Food Security and Nutrition (Y4FSN) Idea Incubator.
Side Event at the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development: Talent Development in Agriculture – Growing Ambitions for Food
On 15 July 2015, at the Hilton Hotel, Jacaranda, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, IAFN hosted a side-event on Talent Development in Agriculture – Growing Ambitions for Food during the Third International Conference on Financing for Development #Ffd3
Side-event Information on UN.ORG
- African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS)
- UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
- Global Forum for Agricultural Research Services (GFRAS)
- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- Tropical Agriculture Platform (TAP)