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Youth in Agriculture

Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s youngest population and is home to over 200 million young people. Two out of three inhabitants are under 25 years of age and 44% of its population is under the age of 15. 70% of the youth resides in rural areas and employed African youth work primarily in the agricultural sector, where they account for 65% of the workforce. Young African men and women are critical to the development of agriculture in Africa and for efforts to ensure food security. They are the future farmers, future policy makers, future leaders, future researchers and future drivers of Africa’s social and economic development!

“The energy of youth can spark economies … The future belongs to them and they have a clear vision of the world we need to build together: peace, the preservation of our beautiful planet, the opportunity to make a better life.” – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Did you know?

  • In Africa 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24 years, comprising more than 20% of the population

  • On average 74% of the youth population in Africa lives on less than US$2 per day lacking the resources and skills to be competitive

Upcoming Events

Featured Country

Flag of South Africa Country: South Africa
Total Population: 50,586,757 (as in 2011)
Literacy Levels: 88%
Definition of Youth: 18 - 35 years of age
African Youth Charter Status: Ratified and deposited
Youth population: According to the Central Statistics Office, in 2010 the youth population between 15-29 years old was estimated to be 306,532 which represented 24 % of the population, comprising of 154,863 males and 151,669 females.
South Africa has a dual agricultural economy, with both well-developed commercial farming and more subsistence-based production in the deep rural areas. Covering 1.2-million square kilometres of land, South Africa is one-eighth the size of the United States and has seven climatic regions, from Mediterranean to subtropical to semi-desert.

This biodiversity, together with a coastline 3 000 kilometres long and served by eight commercial ports, favours the cultivation of a highly diverse range of marine and agricultural products, from deciduous, citrus and subtropical fruit to grain, wool, cut flowers, livestock and game.

While 12% of South Africa's land can be used for crop production, only 22% of this is high-potential arable land. The greatest limitation is the availability of water, with uneven and unreliable rainfall. Around 1.3-million hectares are under irrigation, and around 50% of South Africa's water is used for agriculture.

Agricultural activities range from intensive crop production and mixed farming in winter rainfall and high summer rainfall areas to cattle ranching in the bushveld and sheep farming in the arid regions. Maize is most widely grown, followed by wheat, sugar cane and sunflowers. Citrus and deciduous fruits are exported, as are locally produced wines and flowers.

South Africa is not only self-sufficient in virtually all major agricultural products, but is also a net food exporter. It is also the leading exporter of protea cut flowers, which account for more than half of proteas sold on the world market. Other important export groups are wine, citrus, maize, grapes, sugar, apples, pears and quinces. Important export products include agroprocessing products, such as undermatured ethyl alcohol and hides and skins.


FANRPAN has identified the youth as a special stakeholder group that is to be nurtured and systematically engaged in developing Africa’s agriculture sector. FANRPAN’s work on youth and agriculture aims to engage youth in the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme processes, help them collect evidence and case studies as well as help them contribute to future policies across Africa. FANRPAN will be conducting country case studies on current and emerging youth policies and initiatives with a special focus on links to agriculture. The project will identify spaces and opportunities for developing national ‘youth and agriculture policies’ within agricultural policies and make appropriate policy recommendations. Focus countries for 2013 are Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique and Zambia.

Youth Success Stories

The Shambani Graduate Enterprise received the FANRPAN Youth in Agriculture Award for 2012. The enterprise is a milk processing enterprise co-owned by three Sokoine University graduates.

Shambani Graduate Enterprise


Youth Voices

Youth Stories

  • “Women Leaders Driving Science and Innovation for Agricultural Transformation in Africa”
    12 October 2016
  • CFS Special Event: Youth for Food Security and Nutrition, and Resilience
    15 October 2015
  • CFS Special Event: Youth for Food Security and Nutrition, and Resilience
    15 October 2015
  • Climate Change, Food Security and Nutrition: Cultivating Sustainable Diets and Food Systems Committee for World Food Security (CFS) Side event, Rome
    14 October 2015
  • Africa's youth: a "ticking time bomb" or an opportunity?
    Senegalese opposition politicians denounced the country's high unemployment rate to mobilize youth against former President Abdoulaye Wade in the country's 2012 presidential election.
    April 2013
  • Two entrepreneurs looking to transform agriculture through solar-powered irrigation
    Poor rainfall is partly to blame for Africa's food security woes. Two young entrepreneurs, Charles Nichols and Samir Ibrahim, are however hoping to transform agriculture with their SunCulture solar irrigation kits.
    15 April 2013
  • Skills shortage could hamper Africa growth surge
    Abdoul Aziz Tamba is in his final year of an English course at Senegal's Cheikh Anta Diop University, but he has little hope of finding employment after three years of study. "Everyone expects me to become a teacher or a translator, but there are no jobs," the 24-year-old told Reuters in Dakar. "I'm studying in a field where it's nearly impossible to find work."
    12 April 2013
  • Achieving inclusive growth In Africa: An agenda of The African Development Bank (AfDB)
    Although Africa is experiencing a tremendous growth rate and rated as the fastest growing continent in the world. A new economic growth momentum has been established. But what does this mean to the very people on the continent?
    11 April 2013
  • UN forum urges young innovators to use science and technology to change the world
    27 March 2013 – The potential of young people to use technology to make exceptional contributions to society and history is in the spotlight today at a United Nations forum, where officials are calling on future leaders to use their expertise and compassion to address the challenges facing the world.
    27 March 2013
  • Make agriculture attractive to youth
    Africa needs to make agriculture attractive to youth - African countries have been told to invest more in Youth development and put in place incentives that will encourage them to take to farming as way of solving the unemployment problems, reduced poverty and create wealth.
    26 March 2013
  • Promoting Youth Participation in Agriculture
    It’s no secret that South Africa has a youthful population and whilst there are concerns over its large demographic dividend I am of the strong opinion that as much as it presents challenges it also presents a wide range of opportunities. Western Europe for instance is experiencing a labour shortage.
    20 March 2013
  • Southern Province youths shun empowerment fund
    The Ministry of youth and Sports in Livingstone has expressed worry over the slow response by youths to access the youth empowerment funds to enable them engage in gainful enterprises.
    20 March 2013
  • Youth in agriculture policy in the pipeline
    Nomthandazo Nkambule, Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Hlobisile Ndlovu says an agriculture focused youth policy is being formulated in Swaziland. The ministry of agriculture together with the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Coordinating Assembly for Non Governmental Organisation (CANGO) were engaged in the formulation of the policy.
    19 March 2013
  • World food security and what young Africans can do about it
    Leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, a region with the world’s fastest-growing and youngest population, seek to create more agriculture jobs. Using new technology and farming techniques, they hope to encourage a young, innovative emerging workforce to impact both economic growth and social development.
    19 March 2013
  • Nigeria to reopen NYSC farms nationwide, says youth minister
    Nomthandazo Nkambule, Minister of Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Hlobisile Ndlovu says an agriculture focused youth policy is being formulated in Swaziland. The ministry of agriculture together with the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Coordinating Assembly for Non Governmental Organisation (CANGO) were engaged in the formulation of the policy.
    14 March 2013
  • National Agricultural Youth Policy Dialogue
    Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations (CANGO) and the Food, Agricultural and Natural Research Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) will be convening a National Agricultural Youth Policy Dialogue in Ezulwini, Swaziland on the 13th March, 2013. The objective of the dialogue is to deliberate on the issues of youth involvement in agricultural policy processes and especially those policies aimed at mainstreaming youth.
    13 March 2013
  • FANRPAN Hosts Climate Change and Youth Agricultural National Dialogue in Swaziland
    FANRPAN through the Coordinating Assembly of Non-Governmental Organisations, our node in Swaziland hosted a combined Climate Smart Agriculture and National Youth Policy Dialogue at the Swazi Royal Spa, Ezulwini Swaziland on the 13th of March 2013.
    13 March 2013
  • FANRPAN hosts Youth in Agriculture Dialogue
    FANRPAN through its South African Node Host, National Agricultural Marketing Council hosted the first of a series of Youth in Agriculture Dialogues. The purpose of the dialogue was to disseminate findings of a case study conducted by FANRPAN in partnership with the South Africa Commercial Agri Youth Chamber (CAYC) on current and emerging Youth Policies and Initiatives with a Special Focus on Links to Agriculture.
    11 March 2013
  • Agriculture as A Career Option For Today’s Youth
    The youth today are increasingly developing a negative view of agriculture as a source employment. This has been the biggest drawback of the rapid urbanisation and development. The population shift from villages to towns and cities, due to most young people opting out of the traditional agro-based sources of employment to white collared easy lifestyle is a cause of worry.
    04 March 2013
  • Commentary: Overcoming the twin challenges of youth unemployment and food insecurity
    In the contemporary context of profound and significant global change, youth unemployment levels have hit historic highs (ILO, 2012a,b,c; OECD, 2012)[1] , and despite improved undernourishment estimates in the two decades to 2007, one in eight people suffered chronic undernourishment in 2010 - 2012 - one in four in sub - Saharan Africa - according to the recent United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) State of food insecurity and hunger in the world report (2012).
    04 March 2013
  • My daughter wants to be a farmer
    My daughter wants to be a farmer Many and varied are the challenges we Nigerian women farmers face, from lack of land to uncertain markets to the daily burden of maintaining the household. Working as day labourers brings its own uncertainties. No wonder a future in agriculture is unattractive to Nigerian youth.
    04 March 2013
  • The Youth in Agricultural Trade and Enterprises Model
    Youth in Agricultural Trade and Enterprises (YATE)A business model developed and implemented by Farm Concern International (FCI), is an approach aimed at persuading, motivating and engaging youths of Africa to deepen and expand their participation in Agricultural Systems. The model is applied by assessing sustainable interventions for creating incentives for youth to engage in the existing business opportunities within agricultural value chains that include production, value addition and marketing opportunities.
    04 March 2013
  • Commentary - Engaging youth in agriculture - Investing in our future
    With an expected population of 9 bil lion by 2050 and declining interest of youth worldwide to remain in rural areas and take up agriculture, who will feed this growing population? Youth make up about one fifth of the population of developing and emerging economies and face global unemployment levels from 10 - 28%
    04 March 2013
  • Empowering youth in utilising untapped aquaculture opportunities for aquaculture development
    It was an exciting experience to present during the sixth annual Ugandan fish farmers symposium on January 22nd, 20 13. Youths’ participation during the symposium was vibrant. Some youths presented their innovations while others presented on behalf of their organisations. One of the aquaculture stakeholders at the symposium commended youth contributions saying that the youth of this generation presented a more practical approach to addressing aquaculture related questions. He further commented saying that it was probably because trainings in fish farming were more emphasised in Uganda today due to the current reduction of fish stocks in natural water bodies.
    18 February 2013
  • Kasukuwere Hails Nyanga Potato Projects
    MINISTER of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Youth Empowerment, Cde Saviour Kasukuwere has hailed the Nyanga Youth Empowerment Trust as a clear testimony of tremendous results of the indigenisation and youth empowerment drive.
    18 January 2013
  • Nigeria: Director Wants Strategic Interventions in Agriculture
    Mrs Karima Babangida, the Deputy Director (Gender and Youth), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that strategic interventions could attract youth to agriculture. She said this in Abuja on Tuesday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Babangida said that given the aging population and steady rural-urban migration, there was an urgent need to fund and re-brand the sector.
    16 January 2013
  • IFAD Invests $20.28m in Gambia
    VENTURES AFRICA – In an effort to improve the lives of smallholder farmers including youth and women in Gambia, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) would soon release a $20.28 million grant to Gambia, it was announced on Tuesday. The money will be used to enhance rice and vegetable production nationwide through sustainable land and water management practices to help smallholder farmers increase their incomes.
    15 January 2013
  • Gambia: CRR Youths Ready to Venture Into Agriculture
    Crr — The youth of the Central River Region (CRR) have indicated their strong commitment and readiness to venture into agricultural activities in the drive towards ensuring household food security and keeping hunger at bay. The young people made the commitment at the on-going National Youth Conference and Festival (NAYCONF) in the region's provincial town of Bansang, where the nation's cream have converged to dilate on significant national issues geared towards their advancement and development.
    10 January 2013
  • Africa Youth Conference Adopts Declaration on MDGs, Post-2015 Agenda
    The African Youth Conference on Post-2015 Development Agenda, held in Nairobi, Kenya, from 12-16 December 2012, has adopted a Youth Declaration on the Post-2015 Agenda. This Agenda identifies 13 actions for accelerating progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and makes recommendations for the post-2015 development agenda.
    04 January 2013
  • Youth in Peril’ OR ‘Agriculture in PERIL
    Youth is an asset. Young people – the shapers of the future are an asset to society. Regardless of an increased public commitment to evidence-based policy in African agriculture, too often the profile of certain ‘problems’, and the imperative to rapidly address them through policy inventions and programmes, become disconnected from evidence and understanding.
    03 January 2013

Country Case Studies

FANRPAN in collaboration with CTA commissioned case studies in six countries (Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe). The case studies focusing on current and emerging youth policies and initiatives with a special focus on links to agriculture in the respective countries were conducted by youth representatives from these countries. The country reports will be synthesized into a regional report in order to get a bird's eye view of the current situation, identify gaps and better target interventions.

The final report will be presented at the FANRPAN 2012 High Level Food Security Policy Dialogue in Tanzania, 3-7 September 2012.

Synthesis report on current and emerging youth policies and initiatives with links to agriculture: The Case of Malawi, Mauritius, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe - June 2012



FANRPAN has been conducting policy dialogues at national and regional level, since inception in 1997, as part of its broader mandate as a regional platform that brings together governments, policy analysts, farmers, private sector and civil society to work together in policy development while being sufficiently independent to be able to provide objective evidence-based policy research, analysis and advice.

FANRPAN has adopted policy dialogue as a consensus building tool based on the premise that dialogue is an age-old tradition in the African culture - a form of conflict resolution in community conflict situations and disputes. The principal motivation for the FANRPAN policy dialogues is the desire to link research with policy in order to promote equitable and evidence-based Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources (FANR) policies that will ensure a southern Africa free from hunger and poverty.

Dialogues 2012

Dialogues 2011


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