6.3.6 Think Outside the Farm

Rural development is about more than agriculture and agriculture is about more than food production. In modern economies, only a small minority of workers is employed in food production, and these are the lowest paid workers in the economy. A larger portion of workers is typically employed in agri-business, but wages are still higher in other sectors.  Rural YEO experts should seek to generate employment opportunities in agribusiness, and outside the agricultural sector, in industries such as mining, energy, infrastructure, information technology and communications, financial services, health, education, tourism, hand-made products, natural resource management.

Non-Agricultural Rural Development Opportunities

The following programs do not target young people, but illustrate the potential for young people to benefit from non-agricultural opportunities in rural areas.

JITA Rural Sales Program[1] has created a rural sales-force comprising of formerly destitute women, called ‘Aparajitas,’ a Bengali word meaning ‘women who never accept defeat.’   Aparjitas are rural, door-to-door saleswomen, providing access to retail shopping for women unable to shop in markets because they are too busy or are homebound by custom. Originally a program managed by Care Bangladesh, JITA is now an independent social enterprise owned by CARE and Danone Commuities.  Between the pilot in 2004 and 2012, JITA engaged 2,500 Aparajita in 86 villages selling products of 7 major companies including BATA (shoes), Unilever (a wide range of consumer goods such as toothpaste, soap, and cooking oil) Square (mobile money), Lal-Teer seeds, Advanced Chemical Industries (Agro-chemicals), and Grameen Phone.

The IFC[2] was contracted by the Rio Tinto and Guinea Aluminum mining companies to facilitate procurement of goods and services from small enterprises in rural Guinea, West Africa. The IFC recruited potential suppliers, build their capacity, built the capacity of SE trainers and consultants, built the capacity of the mining companies to buy from SEs, and strengthened the “ecosystem” for business linkages through support to business development centers, small business lenders, local governments, etc. The initiative resulted in $9.1 in SE contracts and the creation of 700 new jobs. In addition, many other SEs received training and advanced their businesses even though they did not receive contracts.