AgriCOOPDS initiative has an important component that targets women and young people, family farmers affiliated to trade unions or family farming organisations on all 5 continents.

OBJECTIVE: to get more young people and women to become members of existing cooperatives in their region, that would strengthen the cooperatives themselves and contribute to improving the quality of life of young people and women in family farming.

Promoting the role of youth in rural and family farming

The role that young people can play in the new sustainable development agenda and the need for their active involvement is highly important. However, there are strong barriers to this, such as:

  • The high rate of youth unemployment and the difficulties in accessing stable and decent employment (ILO, 2016-2017)..
  • Ageing and low generational turnover in the agricultural sector.
  • The context of abandonment and lack of protection of the rural environment in a large number of countries in the world (in terms of levels of access to education, health, infrastructure, services and income).
  • Rural migration, together with the processes of uprooting and family and social destructuring.

This calls for a joint and comprehensive approach to the main challenges of the rural world, based on the need to make visible and enhance the value of the various agricultural activities, the contribution to the construction of sustainable development, and the need to promote policies that encourage the integration and rooting of young people in rural areas.

Youth and cooperativism

With these considerations in mind, agri-cooperatives have proven to be an effective mechanism for attracting young people to agriculturea (Youth: The Future of Agricultural Cooperatives.. FAO, 2011). Through on-farm and farm-related activities, youth employment opportunities are increased. Cooperatives provide services to their members such as access to markets and credit, and knowledge, among others. It also promotes other personal skills such as self-confidence, entrepreneurship and cooperative work.

Cooperatives can also promote the political participation of young farmers and increase their chances of influencing public policies related to family farming. Young people facilitate generational change in cooperatives by including a more innovative approach, since they are more willing to work with new technologies and tend to have higher levels of education than older farmers (FAO, 2011).