Each month People, Spaces, Deliberation shares the blog post that generated the most interest and discussion. For March 2017, the featured blog post is "Future Jobs for youth in Agriculture and Food Systems: Learning from our backyard in DC" by Iftikhar Mostafa and Parmesh Shah.
When we think of agriculture and food, we think of a farmer working in a rural area producing food for consumption and selling some surplus. With growing urbanization and increasing demand for food, food system has moved away from just agricultural production. It involves aggregating, value addition, processing, logistics, food preparation, restaurants and other related services. Many enterprises from small to large are part of the enterprise ecosystem. The potential for new jobs for youth who start and are also employed by their enterprises is significant. The Africa Agriculture Innovation Network (AAIN) has developed a business agenda targeting establishment of at least 108 incubators in 54 African countries in the next 5 years focusing on youth and women among other actors. At least 600,000 jobs will be created and 100,000 start-ups and SMEs produced through incubation and 60,000 students exposed to learn as you earn model and mentored to start new businesses.
In recent past, there have been many innovations in areas of technology, extension, ICT, education, and incubation leading to new generation of enterprises and enterprise clusters resulting in the creation of good quality and new jobs in agriculture and food systems. A key challenge in the future is how we create more and better jobs in the agriculture and food system value chain. One of the major requirements for creating more jobs is a radical change in the way youth are taught agriculture and entrepreneurship. The skills required for a modern agriculture and food system are of a higher order and need to be upgraded significantly.
Since the publication of the 2008 World Development Report, there has been a vigorous discussion in the development community about agriculture; today’s publication of the World Bank’s Agriculture Action Plan is a milestone in that process. To stimulate further discussion on the subject, here are some thoughts from a garden-variety economist.
1. The oft-quoted statement, “GDP growth originating in agriculture is about four times more effective in raising incomes of extremely poor people than GDP growth originating from other sectors,” is an arithmetical point, not an economic point. It simply reflects the fact that 75 percent of the world’s poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.