Hard work and hazard: Young people and agricultural commercialisation in Africa
This article (full article available) in Journal of Rural Studies reports findings on the steps and pathways thorugh with young people construct livelihoods in hotspots of agricultural commercialisation. Overall what emergers from a diversity of backgrounds, experiences and pathways is that the commercialised rural economy within which the operate offer them a variety of income earning opportunities. Family and broader social relations are key in enabling young people to access the needed resources (land, capital and inputs). Between family and rental markets, there is little evidence that young people’s engagement with crop production is limited by their inability to access land. There is also evidence of asset accumulation by young people in the form of housing, furniture and savings, which reflects the combination of relatively dynamic rural economies, enabling social relations and hard work. However, for many it is a struggle to stay afloat, requiring effort, persistence, and an ability to navigate setbacks and hazards. There is little evidence that young people are not interested in agriculture or the rural economy, but seek to build livelihoods in the rural areas. This calls into question the most common proposals for youth-specific interventions in rural areas. However, the findings draw attention to a new potential area for intervention: the use of social protection measures to help minimise downside risks associated with hazards, so that the young people’s hard-earned assets are less vulnerable to loss. A new focus on preventative social protection could help align public and policy.