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Agriculture and Rural Development

In Africa, more not fewer people will work in agriculture

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature? Photo:  Peter Kapuscinski / World Bank

Many people in Sub-Saharan Africa still work in agriculture; on average, over half of the labor force, and even more in poorer countries and localities. Yet the share of the labor force in agriculture is declining (as is normal in development), leading African leaders and economists to focus on job creation outside agriculture.

Planning for jobs of the future matters.  The 200 million young people (those ages 15-24 years old) either looking for jobs or constructing livelihoods now, will increase to 275 million each year by 2030, and 325 million by 2050. Is the neglect of agriculture in job creation strategies and public investments premature?

How innovative financing can support entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods

Michelle Kaffenberger's picture
A fruit and vegetable stand in Kampala. Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank

According to The Africa Competitiveness Report 2017, Africa is forecasted to produce just 100 million new jobs by 2035, while the working age population is projected to grow by more than 450 million. The fastest population growth will occur in the 15 to 35-year-old demographic.  This growing working-age population presents both an opportunity and a potential risk to Africa’s future prosperity. To ensure these new workers engage in productive livelihoods and prevent significant increases in extreme poverty and civil unrest, governments will need to enable job creation, including scaling cost-effective livelihood development programs targeting the extreme poor. Described below is a cost-effective approach which is yielding promising results and scaling through results-based financing.

Five new insights on how agriculture can help reduce poverty

Luc Christiaensen's picture
Also available in: Français 
A Cambodian farmer
A Cambodian farmer - Photo: Chor Sokunthea / World Bank

The view that a productive agriculture is critical for employment creation and poverty reduction is now widely shared within the development community. Yet, this has not always been the case. In the run up to the 2008 world food price crisis, many development practitioners, government officials and economists doubted whether agriculture could still play this role, especially in Africa. Agro-pessimism had set in during the 1990s and 2000s, with a decline in policy attention and agricultural investment.  The food price spikes of 2008 brought a realization that more needed to be done to strengthen agriculture in developing countries.

Unveiling new paths to create more Jobs for the Poor

Maria Laura Sanchez Puerta's picture
Also available in: Français
Onion field in Northern Côte d’Ivoire - Photo by Raphaela Karlen / World Bank

One out of ten people in the world —around 766 million people— still lived below the extreme poverty line in 2013. Most of them, 80 percent, live in rural areas and have very low productivity jobs. Improving jobs and earnings opportunities for these poor and vulnerable workers is at the core of the World Bank Group agenda and it requires holistic economic inclusion initiatives to move them into sustainable livelihoods.

Can Ghana’s extreme poor be graduated?

Suleiman Namara's picture
A stronger focus on human capital investments of children from these households with a particular focus on skills for future jobs will be key. (Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank)


Ghana was the first country in Sub-Saharan Africa to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG1) target of halving extreme poverty by 2015. A share of the population living in poverty decreased from 52% in 1991 to 24% in 2012. Ghana is eager to lead the way in Africa again, but this time to graduate extreme poor households, out of poverty. The current policy debates are around graduating in about three to four years some 8.4 % of households living in extreme poverty. But to what occupations?

How young people are rethinking the future of work

Esteve Sala's picture
(Photo: Michael Haws / World Bank)


When we talk about the future of work, it is important to include perspectives, ideas and solutions from young people as they are the driving force that can shape the future.  As we saw at the recent Youth Summit 2017, the younger, digitally-savvy generations —whether they are called Millennials, Gen Y, or Gen Z— shared solutions that helped tackle global challenges.  The two-day event welcomed young people to discuss how to leverage technology and innovation for development impact.  In this post, we interviewed —under a job-creation perspective—finalists of the summit's global competition.

Can agriculture create job opportunities for youth?

Luc Christiaensen's picture

Also available in: French | Spanish | Chinese | Arabic

Many good job opportunities on and off the farm remain in agriculture. Can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth? 


Technology and the internet are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about the future of work for young people; not agriculture or farming. This makes historic sense, as agriculture sheds labor when countries develop. And the traditional ways of producing food do not look particularly sexy. Yet, technology and the internet are also opening up opportunities for agriculture, and urbanization and changing diets are calling for new ways to process, market and consume our foods. So, can agriculture provide job opportunities for youth?

Three lessons to boost job creation through productive alliances in the food system

Ethel Sennhauser's picture
 
The job creation challenge is intensifying. And the next generation of productive alliances must tap its potential more proactively. What are the best ways to optimize this approach towards boosting employment?
The job creation challenge is intensifying. And the next generation of productive alliances must tap its potential more proactively. What are the best ways to optimize this approach towards boosting employment? (Photo: Chhor Sokunthea / World Bank)


The food system currently employs the majority of people in developing countries, both in self and wage employment. And, according to our recent paper on jobs, all signs indicate that this system — which includes agriculture, as well as beyond-farm jobs in food processing, transportation, restaurants and others — will continue to be a major engine for job creation in the foreseeable future. As economies all over the world are confronted with the challenge of creating around 1.6 billion jobs over the next 15 years, it is important to harness the potential for job generation through productive alliances.

In Zambia, agribusiness creates potential for job growth

Lillian Foo's picture
 
Street market in Chiansi village, Zambia. Photo: Lillian Foo

Zambia is currently under pressure to increase the pace of the economic transformation to create more productive jobs. Despite rapid economic growth from 2000-2013, the country is struggling to provide the kind of jobs needed to help spur sustainable growth and development.  The landlocked country is also one of Africa’s youngest countries by median age, and youth (aged 15-24) who are a significant and increasing share of the working population, are finding it hard to get jobs.

Tackling social exclusion in the labor market

Rebecca Holmes's picture

Focusing on improving women’s skills alone is not enough to enable them to take advantage of economic opportunities. Our study of a program in Bangladesh shows that ensuring labor market participation for the socially excluded requires more than imparting income opportunities via training or asset transfers.

Crossing a foot bridge. Photo: Shehzad Noorani / World Bank

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