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Engaging youth in family farming will require stronger focus on agribusiness and relevant ICTs

January 28, 2015

70% of our global food requirement comes from the 500 million family farms around the world (FAO, 2014). And yet, family farming is often associated with poverty as these farms usually operate on small scales (mainly for subsistence) and generate low revenues. Thus, it is not a surprise that youth are not attracted to family farming.

Youth sustaining family farming through ICTsBut looking at the other side of the picture, there are many young people already involved in family farming. By undertaking their daily tasks, they acquire knowledge and skills from their elderly family members and apply these techniques in their farming activities. They also bring agricultural technology and innovation into the family farm and are often involved in management activities that require their educational knowledge (keeping accounts, communication with partners, etc.). There is also another category of youth who are not directly involved in the field, but are developing ICT applications or offering ICT services which are useful to family farmers.

These are some of the key features of youth in family farming, that are highlighted in the report of the e-debate on "Youth sustaining family farming through ICTs", organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), in collaboration with the African Youth Foundation (AYF) in October 2014. The debate aimed at discussing the involvement of youth in family farming, opportunities and challenges faced, as well as to exploring how ICTs can strengthen their engagement in family farming. It generated over 150 contributions from more than 20 countries.

Participants stressed that enhancing youth engagement in family farming will require further support to rural youth, as well as improving rural conditions. It was recalled that family farming facilitates entry in the agricultural sector. Sustaining it will therefore result in an increase in youth involvement in agriculture.

Key recommendations from the report

On youth and family farming:

  • Encouraging adequate processes for transition of family farm management from elders to youth
  • Promoting role models and success stories of youth in family farming
  • Strengthening policies on family farming and youth

On youth, ICTs and family farming:

  • Developing ICT training and capacity building programmes for youth in family farming
  • Strengthening rural telecentres and rural ICT access points targeting farming
  • Strengthening the role of rural youth as agricultural information brokers via ICTs

Other points raised by participants are the need to develop agribusiness capacity for young family farmers and to ensure that ICT solutions targeting farming and rural stakeholders are more adapted to rural socio-technical contexts. Local content is key and will accelerate adoption of ICTs by family farmers.

The report includes a great number of initiatives shared by youth and organisations supporting youth in agriculture. 

Read and download the full report here

The activity was organised in the context of the International Year of Family Farming, and in the framework of the CTA ARDYIS project’s periodic e-debates. These exchanges aim notably to support knowledge building of young people on ICTs and agriculture and to favour networking. Experts from IFADSavannah Young Farmers NetworkMEDIAPRODCaribbean Agricultural Extension Provider's Network (CAEPNet), University of the West Indies and AYF contributed to the facilitation of the discussions.