Research Department Working Paper n°25

The future of work in African agriculture: Trends and drivers of change

This report synthesizes available evidence regarding how salient demographic and economic trends in sub-Saharan Africa are influencing the future of work in agriculture. It also identifies some of the major policy challenges that African governments are facing, which may influence future work in agriculture.

Rapidly rising demand for food, fuelled by population and income growth, will provide major opportunities for agri-food systems to accelerate employment creation and transform African economies. Seizing these opportunities will require African agriculture to become more inclusive and profitable.

Greater profits in farming will generate greater expenditures by millions of people in rural areas that fuel the transition to a more diversified and robust economy. Higher incomes for millions of households engaged in agriculture will expand the demand for goods and services – and therefore employment – in the non-farm economy, while also opening up new employment opportunities across all stages of agri-food systems.

Making agriculture more profitable and inclusive will require public actions to reduce costs in farm production and agri-food systems, and address soil degradation, climate change, land scarcity and concentrated land ownership. The future of work in Africa will, therefore, depend on how well the enabling environment created through policies and programmes can enhance agricultural productivity growth and enable agriculture to contribute to more broad-based employment generation and the overall agenda for economic transformation.