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Climate resilience and job prospects for young people in agriculture


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Climate change matters for all people. Does it matter particularly for young people? If so, where and how?
PIM Webinar, February 7, 2019.
Presenters: Karen Brooks, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University and Keith Wiebe, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI.
For more information, slides, and podcast visit

Published in: Science
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Climate resilience and job prospects for young people in agriculture

  1. 1. Climate resilience and job prospects for young people in agriculture Presenters: Karen Brooks, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, and Keith Wiebe, Senior Research Fellow, IFPRI February 7, 2019 Photo: C. Schubert PIM Webinar
  2. 2. Youth, jobs, agriculture, and climate change • These topics belong together—for some parts of the world they are at once the problems and the solutions. • In the early period of structural transformation, the agricultural labor force rises absolutely even as it falls relatively. Many young people, especially in Africa, will work on farms and in the agri-food system. • For low income, agriculturally dependent, young countries agriculture must feature prominently in a jobs strategy. • Output growth exceeding growth of the agricultural labor force is needed, and cannot be achieved without adapting to climate change. • Success is possible, but not assured. Success requires investment, policy reforms, and political commitment. • This is an agenda for now. The youth population is high and growing. Time lags inherent in agricultural research mean that the hour is already late. Photo by Nana Kofi Acquah, IWMI
  3. 3. Jobs for rural young people: Big numbers and big questions Non-urban young population (15-24) over time by region (in millions, UN Median Variant) In South and East Asia… • Large numbers but falling • Economies (with some exceptions) urbanized or urbanizing; diversified • Fundamentals improving (infrastructure, human capital) • In most countries, absolute employment in agriculture falling (not just share of the labor force) • As climate change intensifies, young people in EAP and SAS will have choices for employment Source: UN World Population Prospects, 2017.
  4. 4. More big numbers and big questions; different picture for Africa south of the Sahara In Africa south of the Sahara… • Numbers of young people large and rising • Most countries still highly dependent on agriculture (share>20% of GDP) • Structural transformation ongoing but slowing • Agriculture (primary and agri-food system) will be a major employer of young people in 2030 and 2050 Agriculture share of GDP in 2016 vs. youth as a percentage of the population (2030) Sources: GDP from Rosegrant et al. (2017), population from IIASA.
  5. 5. In early structural transformation, employment in agriculture rises initially even as share falls Seen in China until about 1990 Seen now in Africa south of the Sahara 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 0 50 100 150 200 250 Employment in SSA agriculture: rising numbers, declining shares Agricultural employment share (%) People of working age employed in agriculture(millions) Source: WDI indicators 2018Source: Yeboah and Jayne, 2018
  6. 6. A closer look at Ghana Source: Osei and Jedwab in McMillan, Rodrik, and Sepulveda Source: Yeboah and Jayne
  7. 7. What is an employment strategy for rural young people to do? The myths • Only old people remain in villages. • Young people don’t want to farm. • Labor leaves agriculture in structural transformation; agricultural sector contracts—no job growth there. • The big job opportunities are in processing, not primary production. • Youth employment programs for agriculture should emphasize high tech, high skills, no dirt. • Teach entrepreneurship, not farming. The reality • Rural population is aging in Asia, not in Africa. • Farming is an attractive option in conducive circumstances. • Farming is still the best option for many. • Employment in primary agriculture in Africa is rising and will rise in the years ahead. • Young people want land and often can’t get it. • Influx of labor without technical change will depress labor productivity and incomes. • Delayed adaptation to climate change is a threat to agricultural competitiveness. Myths about jobs in transformation lead to muddled strategies. Good strategy for Africa must feature agricultural employment and incorporate adaptation to climate change.
  8. 8. How does climate change affect a jobs strategy? • General equilibrium effects circa 2050 negative, but relatively modest • Slower growth, reduced job creation • Agriculture, roads, hydropower, sea-level rise • Agricultural impacts • Reduced yields • Higher prices • Shifts in geography of production Source: FAO 2018. "FAO Food Price Index". Real Price index data Accessed on May 9, 2018,
  9. 9. Modeling the impacts of climate change Note: each dot (including those that are covered by the box and whiskers plot) represents results for one region, one RCP, one GCM, and one crop-group (cereals, roots and tubers, pulses, oil-crops, oil- meals, fruit and vegetables); boxes indicate the middle 50% of the data; the median of the data is represented by the line dividing the light and dark grey areas within the box; whiskers of the boxplots extend to 1.5 times the interquartile range. Percent change in key output indicators under climate change relative to the NoCC reference in 2050, across all major crop groups and all world regions Source: Mason-D’Croz, Cenacchi, Dunston, Sulser, Wiebe et al. (draft)
  10. 10. Young (and agricultural) countries are highly exposed to climate change Proportion of youthful population and additional extreme heat days by country, 2050 Sources: Heat stress from Robertson (2016), population from IIASA. Numberofadditionalextremedegreedays
  11. 11. In most cases, projected price increases more than offset yield declines to raise revenues…but many risks Change in agricultural revenue due to climate change vs. youth as a percentage of the population (2030) Sources: Revenue from Rosegrant et al. (2017), population from IIASA.
  12. 12. Major risks • Costs may rise with revenues, eroding benefits to producers • If prices rise, land values rise, and young people may be excluded from benefits • Productivity in agriculturally dependent (young) countries may lag projections, and yield loss might be greater (more fall below the line) • Differential adaptation—more developed (older) countries might adapt more effectively, dampen price increase • Perceived global low prices may induce complacency; reaction of agriculturally dependent (young) countries might be too little, too late This Photo by Unknown Author is licensed under CC BY
  13. 13. Adaptive technologies already exist, and more are under development… Promising technologies for selected crops… …but needed investment in agricultural science lacking Rainfed Maize (Africa) Irrigated Wheat (S Asia) Rainfed Potato (Asia) Rainfed Sorghum (Africa + India) Rainfed Groundnut (Africa + SE Asia) 1 Sources: Islam et al. (2016). Sources: GDP from ASTI, population from IIASA. Blue dots are developed countries Orange dots are developing countries
  14. 14. What might be included in a policy agenda for job creation in climate-resilient agriculture? For everyone: • General education • Reproductive health • Rural roads, power, and telecommunications • Agricultural science • Release of new varieties • Climate and weather information • Land administration • Market intelligence • High value products For young people: • General education • Learning to learn • Not necessarily vocational education • Reproductive health • Transparency in land transactions • Mentorship to manage high value crops • ICT-based extension and advice • Machine services • Cost sharing for farm start-ups in age group 25-34 Picture source:
  15. 15. Thanks! Questions? Photo: Gavin Houtheusen/DFID All recordings of our webinars are open access and available here: If you want to receive invitations to our future webinars, please subscribe: