FARM, AFD, Cirad and Future Agricultures Consortium have hosted a side-event on the role of employment in agricultural value chains for food security at the 39th Committee on World Food Security on 17th October 2012 in Rome.
The French development agency AFD, the French research center Cirad, the FARM foundation, and the Future Agricultures Consortium, a United Kingdom-based international network of researchers have shed light on the role of agricultural value chains in employment at the 39th Committee on World Food Security (CFS) taking place from October 15th to 20th in Rome.
Indeed with its diversified audience and the representation of more than one hundred countries, the CFS is an excellent forum to discuss these questions and exchange knowledge and points of view with stakeholders involved in the international policy debate on food security, including representatives of farmers’ organizations, policy makers, donors, and researchers.
The aim of this side event was to bring attention to the need to consider local development and rural-urban linkages when considering agriculture, in order to deal with the employment challenge and the necessary generation of income so critical to food security.
The side event « Dealing with the employment challenge of the most vulnerable to ensure food security : Acknowledging the role of agriculture and agricultural value chains » took place on Wednesday 17 October 2012 with a numerous audience.
It was introduced by Mathilde Douillet (FARM) who highlighted that most debates on agriculture and food security tend to focus on issues such as food availability, land tenure and price volatility — all linked primarily to the supply of food. Similarly, many public policies try to deal with food security issues by targeting growth in agricultural production, increasing self-sufficiency of farmers hoping as a side effect for an increase of farmers’ income and marketable surpluses. Reminding that for the organizers of this event, this vision centered on production is limited, she drafted the questions for the panelists.
Nicolas Bricas (Cirad) moderated the session and lively debates.
Is food production the only role of the agriculture sector ? What about generating jobs and income ?
Addressing the first question, Bruno Losch (CIRAD) presented lessons from the RuralStruc programme, a 5-year comparative study across seven countries at different stages of structural transformation. With specific reference to sub-Saharan Africa, the main policy prescriptions to support rural transformation include : adequate policy support to family farms ; a broadening of the small-versus-large farm debate to encompass employment issues ; and inclusion of employment and environment in modernisation alongside intensification and mechanisation. The study shows that agriculture must be considered through broader rural development objectives. Strengthening rural-urban linkages (the ‘missing middle’ i.e., small cities and rural boroughs with strong local linkages) is a promising way to deal with the twin challenges of employment and income generation.
Do jobs in the farming sector meet the aspirations of young people ?
Jennifer Leavy (IDS, University of Sussex) discussed some of the findings from FAC Young People and Agri-Food theme research related to youth aspirations in agriculture, drawing on voices from the field in Ethiopia and Senegal. She sketched out the main messages emerging from the Young People, Farming and Food Conference in March 2012, asking : Can the agri-food sector help to meet the expectations and aspirations of young people ? The research highlights how the disjunction between policy on the one hand, and understanding and evidence on the other, is unlikely to lead to effective policy and good development outcomes. Policy responses therefore must articulate with ongoing economic, political and social transitions AND young people’s own imperatives, aspirations, strategies and activities.
Quelles est la qualité des emplois proposés par les filières agricoles ?
According to Edmundo Werna (International Labor Organisation), jobs in agriculture are the least regulated by labor laws, protected by social protection programs and social dialog which explains why young people are not attracted to this types of activities.
Olivier de Schutter (UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food) concluded on the need to tackle the question of rural employment, specifically that of women, all the more considering the challenge of an increasing rural population, else there is a risk of facing a rapid increase in food insecurity and urban poverty. He suggests that the CFS should seize upon this issue.
Contact : Mathilde Douillet