IDS Bulletin: Young People and Agriculture in Africa

Bulletin front cover

A new IDS Bulletin asks what young people really mean for the future of African agricultural policy.

The articles in the new IDS Bulletin on Young People and Agriculture in Africa are drawn from the international conference on ‘Young People, Farming and Food’ in Ghana, March 2012. This conference examined how young people engage with the agri-food sector in Africa and how research findings were being integrated into policy processes.

Read Jim Sumberg’s opinion piece:
Growing their own jobs? Agriculture, unemployment and the threat of a ‘lost generation’ of rural Africans

Policy framing and policy responses to the ‘problem’ of young people and agriculture in Africa are hampered by a lack of research and evidence that is theoretically and historically informed, conceptually sound and context sensitive. The result is policy that is well intentioned, but unlikely to address underlying social or agricultural concerns.

The Bulletin is edited by James Sumberg and Kate Wellard-Dyer.

About the Bulletin

Despite increased commitment to evidence-based policy in African agriculture, the profile of certain ‘problems’, and the imperative to address them quickly through policy and programmes, becomes separated from evidence and understanding. When this happens, policy advocates, policymakers and development planners rely heavily on ‘common knowledge’, anecdote and narrative to develop and argue policy alternatives. This is unlikely to result in good policy and development outcomes, particularly when the problems being addressed are associated with complexities such as poverty, livelihoods, agrarian transitions, social justice or sustainability. It is important to ask how common policy responses articulate with ongoing economic, social and political transitions, and with young people’s own imperatives, aspirations, strategies and activities.

In March 2012 the Future Agricultures Consortium and the Ghana-based Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research (ISSER) co-hosted an international conference on ‘Young People, Farming and Food’ in Ghana. This conference examined how young people engage with the agri-food sector in Africa and how research findings were being integrated into policy processes. It also explored the dynamics of change in different components of the agri-food sector and the implications for young people.

The articles in this IDS Bulletin are drawn from the conference. They discuss social and economic structures, aspirations, livelihoods, land and policy, and illustrate the multiple dimensions, scales and complex dynamics of the young people and agriculture ‘problem’ – and why simplistic ‘solutions’ are likely to fail. It is hoped that this collection will stimulate the research to fill an evidence gap of very significant proportions.


View abstracts and subscribe to this IDS Bulletin

* Introduction: The Young People and Agriculture ‘Problem’ in Africa (free download)
James Sumberg, Nana Akua Anyidoho, Jennifer Leavy, Dolf te Lintelo and Kate Wellard

Agriculture and the Generation Problem: Rural Youth, Employment and the Future of Farming
Ben White

Perceptions and Aspirations: A Case Study of Young People in Ghana’s Cocoa Sector
Nana Akua Anyidoho, Jennifer Leavy and Kwadwo Asenso-Okyere

‘A Last Resort and Often Not an Option at All’: Farming and Young People in Ethiopia (free download)
Getnet Tadele and Asrat Ayalew Gella

Quick Money and Power: Tomatoes and Livelihood Building in Rural Brong Ahafo, Ghana
Christine Okali and James Sumberg

Youth Farming and Nigeria’s Development Dilemma: The Shonga Experiment
Joseph Ayodele Ariyo and Michael Mortimore

Youth, Agriculture and Land Grabs in Malawi
Blessings Chinsinga and Michael Chasukwa

Land Policies and Labour Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Law and Economics Analysis
Luis Tomás Montilla Fernández

Young People in African (Agricultural) Policy Processes? What National Youth Policies Can Tell Us
Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

How to read the Bulletin