‘Urgent need to make agri-food systems appealing to young people’ – UN report

A new United Nations (UN) report on youth and agriculture has highlighted the ‘urgent need to make agri-food systems more appealing to young people to secure future global food security and nutrition‘.

The report, Promoting youth engagement and employment in agriculture and food systems, found that unemployment rates for youth are three times higher than for adults – in all regions of the world.

And a vast majority of unemployed youth are young women.

Agri-food systems largely untapped

Agri-food systems, if made more appealing and equitable to young people are a “large, untapped reservoir of employment opportunities”, the report found.

This is relevant in the global south, according to the report, where agri-food systems are already the largest employer of young people.

“However, they often do not provide decent and meaningful work or adequate livelihood opportunities, nor do they maintain a balance between the needs and rights of different generations”, the report found.

Did you know:

Almost 88% of the world’s 1.2 billion youth live in developing countries. In Africa, over 70% of youth subsist on $2 per day, or less.

The report stressed that youth engagement and employment in sustainable agri-food systems is a goal to be realised, as well as a way to transform agri-food systems, to achieve sustainable-development goals, and to achieve economic wellbeing.

Recommendations

The report put forward several recommendations such as improving youth-focused social-protection programmes; labour laws and regulations; young people’s access to resources (land, forests, fisheries, etc.); finance; markets; digital technologies; knowledge; and information.

Supporting youth-led start-up initiatives is also important, and requires a supportive policy environment.

Policies and initiatives to protect and strengthen youth engagement and employment in agri-food systems also need to be anchored in rights, equity, action and recognition, the report said.

About the report

This report was produced by the Committee on World Food Security’s (CFS) high-level panel of experts on food security and nutrition.

The panel provides independent, scientific analyses and advice to the CFS, which is an inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all stakeholders to work together on food security and nutrition for all.

The CFS is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

Commenting on the report, the FAO’s director general, QU Dongyu, said employment and engagement of young people in the agri-food systems is “crucial for the future of global food security and nutrition, across all its dimensions”.

“Young people are also highly concerned about transforming our global agri-food systems to be more sustainable, more resilient, more inclusive, and better for the health of people, animals, plants and the planet.”