By 2050, the youth population in Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) is expected to exceed 60%. To contain the ensuing youth bulge, reduce unemployment and ‘flight’ from rural areas, and increase agricultural productivity, countries seek policies to enhance youth engagement in agriculture. However, orthodox assumptions and locally-inappropriate policies keep youth engagement low. We use qualitative enquiry with focus group discussions and key informant interviews in Ghana and Malawi to examine youth strengths, aspirations, barriers to sustainable agriculture intensification (SAI), and implications for enhancing their inclusion. We further examine the potential of three equity-analysis tools to guide decision making on youth-inclusive SAI. Findings show that youth face limited access to land and capital, limited involvement in decision making and in farmer/development groups, and negative attitudes from community members and officials. Land access was complex, mediated by land-inheritance system, land type, population pressures, culture, and land markets. Land-access problems were acute in matrilineal Malawi, particularly for young men. Decision makers attested to the relevance and usefulness of selected youth-equity analysis tools, and to positive training outcomes on awareness, knowledge, and skills in using them. We contribute context-specific evidence on youth's positive contributions in SAI and the need to recognize them with more targeted and location-differentiated interventions on resources access, including land. Findings also inform the quest for pathways to move the youth-agriculture/SAI debate into tangible actions from below, equipped with youth-analysis tools for decision makers to foster youth-inclusive SAI in Ghana, Malawi, and other countries with similar contexts.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science