The Youth Strategy
It will be implemented in close coordination with the GLDC Gender Strategy. The population of young people, between 15 and 24 years, in GLDC target and spillover countries is 461 million; 330-million are in the primary target countries alone. With limited absorption capacity of urban economic sectors, especially in SSA, many of the youth need to find viable employment in the farm and non-farm rural economy. With rising levels of relative land scarcity, not all rural young people entering the labor force will be able to operate their own farms. Focusing on the youth as the ‘farmers and agri-entrepreneurs of tomorrow’ is being challenged as insufficient and there is a call to rethink the youth agenda in a broader sense of ‘youth inclusive rural transformation.
Being young is not a uniformly experienced transitional phase in life between childhood and adulthood, but a highly gendered one, that intersects with other identities such as marital status, ethnic affiliation, class, education or employment status. Young people’s embeddedness in families, social networks and communities, as well as norms and expectations related to age and gender, influence the exercise of agency as well as livelihood decisions and outcomes. Developing a better understanding of how local contextual factors and social difference interact to shape the diverse pathways by which young people engage with dryland agri-food systems and the potential is an important starting point for youth research in GLDC.
GLDC will focus on understanding the ‘youth in the drylands’ – who they are, who is staying in agriculture, who is leaving agriculture, who is coming back to agriculture once they have left and the pathways they follow in engaging with dryland agriculture. This is done with a view of targeting youth for engagement in cereals/legume value chains; understanding the ‘opportunity structures’ and the unique challenges they have, assessing/testing the sectors of the legumes and cereals value chains that have the highest potential for the youth to engage and benefit, and testing support systems that lead to the youth engaging and benefiting from legume/cereals value chains. The penetration of smart mobiles into the rural areas create an opportunity for digital agriculture, easy access of agricultural knowledge and information, and inputs and outputs information among the young farmers. This has the overall potential of increasing productivity and effectiveness.
Harnessing the large potential of youth requires a multidimensional approach that combines education, strengthening and modernizing agricultural infrastructure, access to land and policies that lift the dryland agricultural livelihoods as a whole and re-socialize understanding of ‘youth-inclusive rural transformation’ in the drylands.