One in three of all workers worldwide are employed in the agriculture sector, but the share of the global workforce in agriculture is dropping as people flock to cities and emerging economy incomes rise.
That’s a problem at a time when global food production has to increase by 35% by 2030 and 50% by 2050 to feed the world’s growing population.
So how does the agriculture sector retain and attract the new talent it needs for the future? “New technology and innovations are creating new opportunities for income gains, entrepreneurship, and higher skilled jobs in the food system,” according to the World Bank’s Future of Food report.
“Rural youth are well-placed to benefit from jobs created by these innovations since they are more likely than adults to own mobile phones as well as adopt financial, training, and extension services which use these digital platforms.” That could include better on-the-farm jobs, enabled by digital networks like Wefarm, or employment with tech-based startups supporting productivity and extension of the agriculture sector, like Hello Tractor, an equipment-sharing platform that has been dubbed “the Uber for tractors.”
Urban youth could benefit too, as urban and indoor farming grows. “Between 1,000 and 15,000 farming jobs, have for example been created in urban centers like Bamako, Accra, and Kumasi, and even megacities such as Shanghai maintain their urban farming as an important part of the economic system,” according to a post on a World Bank blog.
One initiative pushing to draw youth into agriculture is the Africa Agriculture Innovation Network, or AAIN. The three-year-old network, backed by roughly 200 public, private and academic institutions, has led youth-focused agriculture initiatives across the continent, engaging young people on problem-solving pressing issues like sustainable fertilizers and soil health, building Ghana’s seed sector, and developing climate resilient agtech in Rwanda.
AAIN aims to launch 180 agriculture incubators in 54 countries over the next five years. Its goal is to create 600,000 jobs and 100,000 startups on the continent with an “earn as you learn” model.