Youth and agriculture
Tue May 17 2022

Main challenges and concrete solutions

Published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Agriculture (FAO) in collaboration with the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Fund for agricultural development (IFAD)

It is widely accepted that education is the key to meeting the challenges related to the development of rural areas. There is not only a direct link between food security and the education of children in rural settings but there is also evidence that basic skills in writing, reading, and computing help improve farmers' livelihoods (FAO, 2007). Access to knowledge and information is therefore essential for young people to overcome the difficulties they encounter in the agricultural sector. For young people to influence the course of policies in agriculture that primarily concerns them in terms of access to markets, finance, land, and green jobs, they must benefit from appropriate education and have access to information adequate. Although this is true for both developed and developing countries, this is an even more important issue for the latter where young people living in rural areas often do not have access to the most rudimentary education and where educational institutions are often very underdeveloped. Classical primary and secondary education can teach young people numeracy, writing, and reading skills, provide them with management and business skills, and introduce them to agriculture. On the other hand, more informal education (including vocational training or extension services), as well as higher education in agriculture, can offer knowledge more specifically related to the field of agriculture.

In developing countries, access to information and education is often more difficult in rural areas than in urban areas, and this inequality can be seen as early as school primary. In many rural areas of developing countries, children are hungry and have no enough energy to go to school or assimilate the information received. During seasonal peaks cycles of agricultural production, there may be a shortage of labor and the parents then have no choice but to ask the children for their contribution to the household and to the work in the fields instead of going to school. Schools are often dilapidated and there are sometimes even no educational materials. Schools are frequently located quite far from rural areas, which makes it difficult to access for children living in these communities (FAO, 2009a). The United Nations Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) reports that children in rural areas have twice as likely as urban children to miss school (UNESCO, 2012).

Although the inequality of access to school according to the sexes tends to decrease, the poor girls and living in the zones rural areas remain more likely than boys to be excluded from primary education (UN, 2009). On ensuring the transition from primary to secondary education for children rural areas, this is an even greater challenge in many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa., 5 Girls living in rural areas are less likely than boys and/or girls from cities to go to secondary school: early marriages limit mobility girls and the education of boys tend to be clearly prioritized (UN, 2009; World Bank, 2011). On the other hand, school curricula are only poorly adapted to the rural context, and in many many schools in developing countries, agricultural education is obsolete and unsuitable, or just disappeared. In most parts of the world, agriculture is seen as a a minor subject or as the last resort for students with serious academic difficulties. Use agricultural activities as punishment are even a common practice in schools or at home in many parts of Africa or the Pacific (MIJARC/IFAD/FAO, 2012; PAFPNet, 2010), and this attitude has a very negative influence on the ambition of young rural people. Teaching is not very rarely of good quality, and it is difficult to find competent and motivated teachers who want to work in remote rural areas (FAO/UNESCO, 2003; World Bank, 2008). In many rural areas agricultural knowledge is passed on from parent to child, but a study conducted in the Pacific regions shows that young people expect a transmission of knowledge that is coordinated and effective rather than informal (PAFPNet, 2010).