FAO discusses youth and employment for vibrant rural areas in Europe and Central Asia
Almost one-third of people in Europe and Central Asia live in rural areas, and in many countries, farm structures are dominated by small family farms cultivating less than 5 ha each. Their resilience and strength are crucial not only for rural development, but also for providing nutritious produce from sustainable sources for the entire region.
As pointed out today during an event at the Thirty-second Session of the Regional Conference for Europe titled “Solutions for youth, employment and developing rural areas in relation to the United Nation’s Decade of Family Farming,” family farms face multiple challenges, including limited access to finance and modern technologies, low input quality and limited labour skills.
Although agriculture remains an essential building block of many economies in the region, people living in rural areas – especially women, youth and other disadvantaged groups – often face limited livelihood opportunities and lowered living and working conditions.
To broaden the conversations among partners, an analysis of the situation of smallholders, family farms and rural youth in agriculture was presented at the session, including a review of strategies that can potentially foster the revitalization of rural areas in the region.
FAO Members, civil society organizations, and members of the private sector acknowledged the potential of the United Nations Decade of Family Farming 2019–2028 to revitalize rural areas, with special attention on empowering rural people, particularly women and youth. Among the ways mentioned to help transform rural areas were strengthening rural services, bolstering rural infrastructure, ensuring that youth are included in decision-making processes, and encouraging youth entrepreneurship in rural areas. Members also were encouraged to give youth, as agents of change, a stronger voice on international platforms.
FAO has long advocated for more innovation and improved digital technologies as crucial factors for promoting modern sustainable agriculture and rural development.
“FAO’s assistance to its Members is rooted in the Sustainable Development Goals and the established national targets,” emphasized Raimund Jehle, FAO Regional Programme Leader.
Uzbekistan, the chair of the Thirty-second Session of the Regional Conference for Europe, is a strong supporter of increasing the share of youth in the agricultural sector. The country organized the International Forum of Young Farmers to widen their involvement in farming, and it has developed a network of science, education, information and consulting services to incorporate these areas into agricultural practices.