Young People, Agriculture, and Transformation in Rural Africa: An “Opportunity Space” Approach

Published on 1 September 2013

Over the last decade, both agriculture and young people have become increasingly
prominent on African development agendas. Politicians, policymakers, and
development professionals have confronted food price volatility, food insecurity,
and the phenomenon of large-scale land grabs on the one hand, and the
entrenched under- and unemployment among young people—the (youthful)
human face of the phenomenon of jobless growth—on the other. It is perhaps not
surprising that many have put two and two together, concluding that engagement
in production agriculture (including crops, livestock, and fisheries) is an obvious
(if not the obvious) opportunity through which to address the problem of limited
economic opportunity for young people in rural areas. Associated with this view is
the assumption that rural young people would be better off if they did not migrate
to urban areas, thus avoiding exposure to risky and illegal behavior (sex,
HIV/AIDS, drugs, crime) and potential entanglement in dangerous political

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