Investing in young farmers
Youth are often one of the most vulnerable segments of IFAD’s target group, both in terms of access to assets and services and in terms of opportunities and capacities to engage in decision-making processes that determine their livelihood prospects.
Farmer organizations are a key channel for young rural people to develop activities, get access to services and natural resources, and make their needs and concerns heard in decision-making processes.
The Farmers’ Forum was created in 2005 by IFAD, the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), La Via Campesina and the Network of Peasant and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA). It was designed as process of consultation and dialogue between farmers’ and rural producers’ Organizations (FOs), IFAD and governments focused on rural development and poverty reduction. A global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum was held in February 2010 at IFAD Headquarters where the participants stressed the urgent need to address young farmers in the following way: “Our family agriculture needs to be remunerative and give dignity. Young women and men farmers’ access to production assets – land, credit, and training – has to be ensured”.
In this regard, the participants recommended that IFAD mmainstreams youth in all IFAD policies and programmes, with a gender balance and an emphasis on developing capacity-building and enhancement programmes for rural youth to engage in sustainable food production and agriculture and rural employment.
They particularly recommended that IFAD:
- Map young farmer and rural youth organizations and their networks (national and regional).
- Hold a Farmers’ Forum event similar to the one held for women this year, and ensure more representation of young people in subsequent Farmers’ Forums.
- Designate within IFAD a focal point for youth.
- Hold a global workshop on youth involvement in Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development during this year (UN Year of Youth).
- Mainstream youth in all IFAD policies and programmes, with a gender balance and an emphasis on developing capacity-building and enhancement programmes for rural youth to engage in sustainable food production and agriculture and rural employment.
- Launch pilot projects supporting rural youth.
- Organize youth exchanges for experience-sharing on best practices and learning”.
To start responding to that request, a specific programme to map key actors, specific issues and success stories in the different regions of IFAD operations is under preparation by MIJARC (International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth), in close collaboration with the Farmers’ Forum Steering committee members, and FAO and CTA.
The programme will develop collaborations with the various on going initiatives within IFAD to address youth issues (for example, the collaboration with the ILO to review strategies and programmes for promoting decent and productive employment of young people in rural areas and projects and grants in regional divisions supporting young people’s activities).
Regional workshops will be organised to define ways of promoting active participation of the young in FOs and in the definition of FOs’ agendas that respond to young peoples’ needs; to improve capacity of FOs to advocate for young rural women and men in gaining access to farming activities; identify tools and methods to support young men and women farmers’ interests in agricultural development programmes through their organizations.
The programme will lead to recommendations in terms of policies and projects to help FOs support young people, women and men, enter and invest sustainably in farming activities. They will be discussed during the next global meeting of the Farmers’ Forum in February 2012.
By Philippe Remy