The joint event dually focused on the key issues and pathways for youth to access land, particularly in Africa, as well as best-practice tools to promote land access for youth. The session was moderated by Karol Boudreaux, Senior Land and Resource Governance Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), who began by making the connection between the overlapping issues of rural youth employment and land governance.
The session kicked off with Rahul Antao, Technical Specialist in Rural Youth and Social Inclusion at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), who framed the topic and emphasized the importance of an integrated approach which considers both context and culture. He spoke of the need to incentivize rural youth to engage in agriculture, which can be achieved through increased access to knowledge, markets, infrastructure, and mentorship. This is particularly true for rural young women in Africa, who have even more limited access to land. Rahul explained how practical pathways toward better access include facilitating intergenerational land transfer, sharecropping opportunities, and allocation of public and communal land for youth. IFAD projects in Senegal and Ethiopia were presented to demonstrate how these techniques can help rural youth build credit and propel young rural women toward agribusiness entrepreneurship.
Antti Seelaff, Sustainable Land Use Expert who did a consultancy for the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) shared examples of his research on land governance in Malawi, which is of particular importance given the youthfulness of its population. He spoke about how the National Agricultural Investment Plan offers training and mentorship opportunities for rural agricultural actors with special priority for women and youth. These types of initiatives are critical to embed access to land in broader conversations and measures of agricultural development.
Javier Molina Cruz, Senior Land Officer, and Maria Paola Rizzo, Coordinator of the Open Tenure Project at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) spoke about new approaches for rural youth to secure land access and tenure. Land access can lead to better socio-economic inclusion of rural youth in their communities, making migration less appealing. Thus, they emphasized the need for easy-to-use concrete methodologies and tools to help youth and farmers secure their land. FAO’s Open Tenure Tool was just one of the examples, which is an open source application that registers, documents, and safeguards customary land rights, using a bottom-up community approach.
Finally, Nicole Bolomey, International Director at the Andreas Hermes Akademie and Denis Kabiito, CEO and National Coordinator of the Young Farmers’ Federation of Uganda (UNYFA) ended the session by covering the vital issue of intergenerational farm succession. Because older parents often do not pass on their land until death, critical farming knowledge and skills are lost and their children are not equipped to take over the farm. As such, they developed the GENX Guideline, which is a practical approach to support farm succession effectively. The speakers emphasized the context-specific nature of farm succession and shared examples of the application’s success in Uganda.
The conversations made for a dynamic and interesting dialogue. Overall, the joint event highlighted the extensive crossover between the broader aspects of land governance and rural youth employment, showcasing how the two issues can be addressed simultaneously. The topic of access to land for youth may be recent but this event shone a light on its critical importance and provided insights on hands on experiences and tools.