Turning the changing food needs of a rising middle class into decent jobs for rural youth

By Alexandre Kolev, Head of Unit, Social Cohesion, and Ji-Yeun Rim, Co-ordinator, Youth Inclusion Project, OECD Development Centre


To read more on this subject, check out
The Future of Rural Youth in Developing Countries:
Tapping the Potential of Local Value Chains


banner-youth-inclusion-home-page.890wRural youth constitute the majority of the youth population today in most developing countries, and their number keeps growing. Most of them are low educated, engaged in low-value added farming, and struggle to find better jobs to escape poverty and hardworking conditions. Only a tiny proportion of rural youth want to keep their jobs, and few work in high-skilled occupations. What is becoming increasingly clear is that rural youth are turning their backs on subsistence agriculture; they have high expectations, do not want to farm like their parents and are lured by the thought of better jobs in urban areas or abroad. As a result, many rural youth end up working in urban areas in low-productive informal activities.

What could break this cycle is growing local and regional demand for processed food from a rising urban middle class in many parts of the developing world. This represents an untapped opportunity to achieve the triple objectives of decent job creation for rural youth, food security and sustainable production. In Africa alone, domestic demand for processed food is growing fast, more than 1.5 times faster than the global average between 2005 and 2015. These trends offer huge opportunities for developing food systems geared toward local and regional markets, much larger than for global markets.

So, what’s standing in the way of achieving this opportunity? Continue reading “Turning the changing food needs of a rising middle class into decent jobs for rural youth”

Disentangling urban and rural food security issues in West Africa

By Richard Clarke, Consultant, Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat

The rapid growth of cities in West Africa poses significant challenges across development dimensions. In particular, as the location of poverty spreads from rural to urban areas so have issues of food insecurity and malnutrition. Indeed, the potential impact of growing food insecurity in urban areas was highlighted by the widespread rioting over food prices in 2008.

The West African region is set to experience a further doubling of its urban population over the next 20 years, having grown from 6 million to 170 million between 1950 and 2015. This growth will place greater demands on regional food systems, which themselves are increasingly exposed to adverse global climatic and economic conditions, to provide cities with their nutritional needs.   Continue reading “Disentangling urban and rural food security issues in West Africa”

African cities can be actors of structural transformation

By Arthur Minsat, Economist, OECD Development Centre African nations are exploring how best to harness the potential of cities as agents of change to achieve progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The current African Economic Outlook (AEO), jointly produced by the African Development Bank, the OECD Development Centre and the United Nations Development Programme, warns that policy makers … Continue reading African cities can be actors of structural transformation

The Narrative of Development Has Changed

This interview, with Mario Pezzini, former Director of the OECD Development Centre, first appeared in “Digital Development Debates” on October 14, 2015. Click here to read it anew.  Interview by Frederik Caselitz and Prisca L. Watko The OECD Development Centre serves as forum where policymakers can find solutions to pressing development questions. We met Director Mario Pezzini on the occasion of the Africa Forum held in Berlin this year, where … Continue reading The Narrative of Development Has Changed

The Milan Charter: What’s in it for West Africa?

By Donatella Gnisci, Sahel and West Africa Club Advisor – Expo Milano 2015 If you agree that a lack of access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food, clean water and energy goes against human dignity, will you join Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen in signing the Milan Charter? The Charter, which is available in 19 languages, emphasises that one of the greatest ongoing challenges for humanity is … Continue reading The Milan Charter: What’s in it for West Africa?