The Future of Rural Youth in Developing Countries

Tapping the Potential of Local Value Chains

image of The Future of Rural Youth in Developing Countries

Rural youth constitute over half of the youth population in developing countries and will continue to increase in the next 35 years. Without rural transformation and green industrialisation happening fast enough to create more wage employment in a sustainable manner, the vast majority of rural youth in developing countries have little choice but to work in poorly paid and unstable jobs or to migrate.

As household dietary pattern is changing, new demands by a rising middle class for diversified and processed foods are creating new job opportunities in food-related manufacturing and services. Agro-food industries are labour-intensive and can create jobs in rural areas as well as ensure food security. Yet the employment landscape along the agro-food value chains is largely underexploited. This study looks at local actions and national policies that can promote agro-food value chains and other rural non-farm activities using a youth employment lens.



Executive summary

OECD Development Centre

Rural youth today constitute the majority of the youth population in many developing countries. Most of them are engaged in subsistence farming and struggle to find better-paying jobs to escape poverty. What is becoming increasingly clear is that rural youth are turning their backs on small-scale agriculture; they have high expectations, do not want to farm, and aspire to better jobs elsewhere. Yet, a growing local and regional demand for food in many parts of the developing world represents a unique untapped opportunity to advance towards the triple objectives of decent job creation for rural youth, food security, and sustainable production. The question for policy makers, therefore, is how to make rural youth the drivers of more productive and environmentally sustainable agri-food activities that respond to changing local and regional consumption needs and provide them with decent jobs aligned with their expectations.


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