Attracting youth to agriculture in asia: context and prospects

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A Regional Scoping Paper Prepared by

Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA)

December 2014

The United Nations (UN) declared 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) to recognize the significant contribution of small-scale farmers in feeding the world and caring for the earth. Small scale family farmers feed 70% of the world’s population and a majority of them are in Asia and Pacific. Sixty (60%) of the poor and hungry people are in Asia. The IYFF is an opportunity to tell the world to invest in smallholder agriculture, invest in women in agriculture and invest in the rural youth.
Sixty percent (60%) of the world’s rural population is made up of young men and women. The rural youth is often unemployed or work informally in unpaid, low skilled, insecure and hazardous jobs, leading to massive migration to cities. In previous regional consultations, members of the Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) have shared the ageing of farmers in their countries, especially in North Asia and Southeast Asia, where the young no longer want to go into farming due to various reasons.
AFA is implementing a lobby and advocacy process on attracting the youth to agriculture through the Farmers Advocacy Consultation Tool (FACT), which is one of the priority issues this IYFF. It has 4 pillars: (1) consultation to members, (2) participatory research, (3) SMART proposal writing, and (4) lobby mapping and stakeholder analysis. It ensures that proposals are based on the needs, opinions and situations of farmers and are complemented by expert knowledge.
This regional paper is the product of FACT processes at the country and regional level. AFA members in 9 countries – Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Kyrgystan, Mongolia, and Japan – conducted consultations, participatory researches and policy proposal writing, participated by young women and men farmers and other stakeholders (e.g., government representatives, other CSOs, parents, etc). (Country-level FACT processes are described in Annex A.)
The initial results of country-level processes were presented during the AFA regional consultation on youth issues in Bali in May 2014. The results of the national consultations and participatory researches were then combined with participatory research at the regional level in order to come up with a regional policy proposal that can be lobbied with decision makers in time for the closing of the IYFF 2014. The draft regional policy paper was presented and discussed at the AFA Young Farmers Regional Forum and Workshop in November 2014 in Manila. With the vision statement:
A community of educated, empowered and passionate Young Asian Farmers engaged in sustainable family farming that nurtures a prosperous, resilient, healthy, happy and loving world.
The participants agreed to create an ad hoc structure to establish a strong base of organized young farmers. They see farming as a mission, a way of life, an important foundation of a society, and an essential element of a healthy society that they want to continue to nurture, an important inheritance from their predecessors.

Unless cited otherwise, the findings presented here are synthesized largely from data obtained from consultations and research undertaken by AFA members.
2a. Situation of (Rural) Youth in Asia
UN ESCAP (2012) data shows that over 60% of the world’s youth, or more than 750 million young women and men aged 15-24 years, live in Asia-Pacific (Figure 1). In 2012, there were 4.3 billion people living in the region, which is equal to 60% of the global total of 7.1 billion people.  The number of young people and their percentage of the total population have been increasing for over 60 years, but the forecast was for these to have peaked in 2010, and to decline in coming years. In 2010, India had 234 million young people, the highest number of any country in the world (representing 19% of India’s total population), followed by China with 225 million (representing 17% of total population). Bangladesh and the Philippines also had very high shares of youth at 20%; Japan had 12 million young people or 10% of total population.
Figure 1. Distribution of youth by subregion, Asia-Pacific, 2010.


Based on FAO and UNDP data, the percentage of rural youth as % of total population in Asia has been decreasing over the past sixty years which in 2010 was 9% in East Asia and 11% in Southeast Asia (Figure 2). Though the proportion of rural youth is decreasing, however, the absolute number of rural youth has increased, but has already started to decrease in the past 10 to 25 years in East Asia and Southeast Asia. It is also important to note that rural youth are not necessarily involved in agriculture.
Figure 2. Rural youth (aged 15-24) as % of total population by subregion (1950-2050)

Factors that hinder tackling youth issues. According to UN ESCAP (2012), several factors hinder tackling youth issues in the region: (i) lack of reliable data concerning youth; (ii) insufficient political will and earmarked resources; (iii) lack of coordination among government ministries and involvement with NGOs, the private sector and academia.
No uniform definition of youth. It should be noted that there is no universally accepted definition of "youth" and countries have various definitions of youth from as young as 7 years to as high as 39. For instance, youth is defined under the law as young men and women 14-28 years in Kyrgystan while it is 15-30 years in the Philippines. For statistical purposes, the UN has defined youth as those 15-24 years of age. The definition of youth, or who comprises “young farmers”, is of importance part the number of particularly when current or future programs will target young farmers as beneficiaries which will have associated public expenditures or investments.
Lack of data on rural youth or young farmers. There is a lack of information or data on rural youth much less young farmers in Asia, as reflected by data collected on rural youth or young farmers by AFA members.
Philippines. According to Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA), despite being a predominantly agricultural country, there are only 12 million farmers in the Philippines in a total population of about 97 million (2012 data). Many Filipino farmers are small landholders tilling an average of 2.5 ha of land each. In 2008, the 12.03 million Filipinos (75% men) employed in the agriculture sector accounted for 35% of the country’s labor force; in 2010, this went down to 11.96 million (or 33%). The number of children aged 5 to 17 years old working in farms nationwide fell to 1.26 million in 2010.
Vietnam. According to Vietnam Farmers’ Union (VNFU), 30% of the population are youth aged 16-30 years, and 70% of them (17 million) are rural youth, with equal proportion of young men and women. According to surveys by the Vietnam Youth’s Union in 2011, 4.1% of rural youth lacked employment while 3% were unemployed.
Nepal. According to National Land Reform Forum (NLRF), almost 50% of people in Nepal are youth between 16-40 years; those 18-35 years make up 42% of the total population.
Mongolia. According to National Association of Mongolian Agricultural Cooperatives (NAMAC), 39% of the total population of 2.9 million are young people aged 15-34 years, with 41% women. Only 10% or 117,700 are young herders, a critically low indicator for a country whose main economic sector is livestock; 38% of the working age population are livestock producers. Of the 25,000 crop farmers, 39% are young farmers with 37% women.
Kyrgystan. According to Union of Water User Associations (UWUA), youth aged 14-28 years consisted of 31% of population or some 1.6 million in 2010; two-thirds of youth live in rural areas. The number of economically active youth is 855,000 people or 50.7%; out of the employed youth, 61.2% are men and 38.9% women. About 20% of youth do not work or study and about one third are not satisfied with realization of their creative capabilities or prospects of their professional and career growth. About one fourth of youth are not satisfied as citizens with their financial situation and the level of legal security. However, a majority of youth (about 55%) are open to innovations, while half are in favor of stability and evolutionary development. The economically active section of rural youth 18-35 years and owning farming land and engaged in farming can be considered as “young farmers”. Practically, each family farm has representatives of youth engaged in agriculture. Young men and women in agriculture make up approximately 61% and 39%, respectively, of the 356,000 family farmers in the country. However, there are no records on young farmers and gender proportion in youth farming, and hence impossible to give official data relevant to youth in agriculture.
High rate of youth unemployment. The average rate of youth unemployment in Asia-Pacific is estimated to be 11%, or more than double the rate of the total working age population (UN ESCAP 2012). Jobs provide a source not only of income for young people but also dignity and self-respect.
High rate of youth migration. Many young people choose in the region to migrate to seek better lives. The proportion of adolescent and youth migrants in the total international migrant population is 19% in Asia; 46% of all migrants between 10 and 24 years of age are females (UN ESCAP 2012). Many youth migrants are undocumented and some are trafficked, including for sex work. Data collected by AFA members show similar patterns of migration:
The number of youth in Vietnam who want to migrate to big cities to work rose from 40% in 2009 to 56% in 2012. In Nepal, there is high rate of youth migration to other countries at 1,200 to 1,700 youth daily; in two districts surveyed by NRLF, 5-25% of the rural youth are migrating abroad to look for employment. In Kyrgystan, young people go mostly to Russia and Kazakhstan and 20% of the population are now out of the country. In the Philippines, most rural families want their children to pursue more gainful jobs in the cities or overseas, as farming is largely associated with poverty.
Lack of national youth policies. According to UN-ESCAP (2012), while several countries have well-developed and stand-alone national youth policies which are embedded in their constitutions, others still lack coherent youth policies with various government agencies responsible for covering different youth issues. Only a few national youth policies have been developed and implemented that draws upon the specific needs of young people.
Limited role of youth in decision-making processes. Youth in Asia also face the continuing challenge of limited role in decision-making processes due to a lack of structured and institutionalized opportunities (UN ESCAP 2012). Through social media, access to information and other new networking tools, young people across the region have better opportunities to become more politically active and find space for the realization of their aspirations.
Challenges to agricultural human resources. The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) identifies the major challenges to agricultural human resources across Asia as follows: a) aging agriculture research and academic staff, b) high staff turnover, wide age and qualifications gap in the succession hierarchy, c) low budget for research and training activities, d) outdated curricula, outmoded research and academic facilities, e) lack of student attraction to agriculture careers; and f) agriculture graduates not well-equipped with knowledge, skills and attitudes to compete globally.

2b. Issues and Challenges of Youth in Agriculture in Asia
Indonesia. Aliansi Petani Indonesia (API) believes that there is lack of young farmers in agriculture due to several factors – lack of interest in farming, lack of incentives to farm, boredom or laziness and more agricultural labor becoming more costly as young people become factory workers. Young farmers also face several challenges:

  • Agrarian issues (land tenure, fertilizers, local seeds, access to capital, market information, access to market);

  • Lack of support policies from central government, e..g. importation of vegetables and control over organic tobacco;

  • High cost of production which result in farmers’ indebtedness;

  • No price standardization;

  • Pests and diseases and lack of knowledge on integrated pest management;

  • Lack of modern agricultural machinery, post-harvest appropriate technology;

  • Unpredictable climate change conditions;

  • Vanishing local seeds and widespread use of manufactured seeds.

Philippines. According to PAKISAMA, farmers and fishers are getting too old for what is back-breaking work, and their children are not keen on replacing them in the family farm for lack of interest or incentive or both. The average age of the Filipino farmer is 57 years and the Philippines may reach a critical shortage of farmers in just 15 years, an unseen crisis threatening the country's food security. Fewer students are enrolled in agriculture and related courses which are offered primarily in state universities and colleges. The youth is not attracted to agriculture due to several factors and problems in the sector:

  • Low regard for farming. Farming is perceived as lowly work fit only for school drop-outs or those without other options. Another widespread perception is that there is no money in farming – their parents were poor farmers, they will remain poor farmers. This low regard for farming has brought about low self-esteem and a sense of discrimination among young farmers; hence the need to put pride and dignity back into farming.

  • Lack of access to land. Many young farmers do not own land that they cultivate. In case of owner-cultivator parents, young farmers have to wait for their parents’ demise before they can inherit and manage their parents’ land. Young people can apply as agrarian reform beneficiaries only if they are considered as an independent household unit and not dependents of their parents.

  • Lack of access to capital. Young farmers also lack access to capital and credit as they are not the heads of their families nor do they have the collateral needed by banks and financial institutions.

  • Farming is laborious work. Most small family farms are not mechanized, and although farm mechanization is being promoted to make farming less laborious, young farmers worry that large machines will replace their labor as farmworkers.

  • Lack of participation in governance. Young farmers are not formally recognized as a demographic group by the government. And because they are not recognized, they do not have formal venues for participation in governance and in decision-making process; as well, there is a lack of government programs that are targeted at them.

  • Lack of rural youth groups. The lack of socio-cultural activities or youth organizations in rural areas is also a key factor. There are no solidarity groups or venue for exchange of information, ideas and supporting each other’s endeavours.

  • Legacy of chemical-based farming and “instant farming”. Young farmers are also faced with the consequences of their parents’ or elders’ dependence on chemical farming which are more costly and degrade their lands. Shifting to organic farming is expected to result in low yields during the so-called conversion stage.

  • Instant farming”, climate risks. Young farmers note that the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) has resulted in “instant calamities” and farmers getting lazier. Also, more unpredictable weather conditions related to climate change increases risks to agriculture but there is a lack of crop insurance and social protection for farmers. Young indigenous farmers also bewail that rituals traditionally performed by their communities, e.g. before planting or during harvest time, are no longer being practiced.

Young men and women farmers perform many tasks in the family. They are “all-around” workers who are oftentimes assigned more laborious tasks. They work alongside their parents and when they have families of their own, they still need to help in their parents’ farms. Young farmers are “merchandisers” entrusted with marketing and finding buyers for their family’s produce; farm managers, supervisors or caretakers; small entrepreneurs who form joint ventures; or work off-farm in odd jobs, e.g. tricycle drivers. Young farmers also take on the role of extension workers within the family and community, sharing agricultural knowledge or technology they learn in school or elsewhere. Those trained in sustainable agriculture are strong advocates of ecological conservation and organic farming.

Contrary to widely-held perceptions about the rural youth, however, an award-winning research in 2012 by the Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) found that young farmers are still interested in farming. They have expressed their wish to stay connected to agriculture by, e.g., providing capital to relatives toiling the land. Rural youth should then be seen as future investors who can provide capital investments to family farms.
Thailand. According to SORKORPOR (SKP), agriculture is seen as hard work, and the number of youth in agriculture has been decreasing steadily while rural youth move into the industrial, service and entertainment sectors. Only old farmers remain in the villages; the average age of farmers in Thailand is 54 years. The price of agriculture products remains uncertain or decreasing, there is a general lack of motivation in farming as an occupation. The spate of political conflict also aggravates the situation because government could not implement agricultural policies, e.g. price control on rice and rubber.
Vietnam. According to VNFU, the most urgent needs of rural youth in Vietnam are jobs and low and unstable income from farming. More rural youth leave farming and work in big cities due to industrialization; the lands that they leave behind remain largely uncultivated. Young farmers lack experience, knowledge and appropriate training on agricultural production and marketing; lack capital and have difficulty in selling their products at fair prices. Moreover, there is lack of funds for community activities for rural youth. Many rural youth will go into farming only if farming can make them rich and feel confident.

  • Trend of going to cities to look for jobs. Most rural youth just help their parents in farming when they have free time. There are very few rural youth who want to stay in rural areas to do farming. Although rural youth occupies majority of labor force, most of them have low qualification and capacity in production and business. Many rural youth wish to enter university or college to have chances to leave the rural area and have good job in big cities. Rural youth moving to big cities is a major trend and leads to other urgent issues like social problems, transportation safety and organizing migrant youth.

  • Limited agricultural land. The process of industrialization and modernization has made agricultural lands decrease rapidly. This is also a reason why rural youth must go to big cities to look for jobs. In 2001-2007, 500,000 hectares were converted to urbanization/ industrialization purposes; currently, there is a support policy by government to control and keep agricultural land, e.g. 3.8 million hectares for rice.

  • Lack of capital. Young farmers lack capital and access to loans because they are not the heads of their families and they do not have collateral to borrow money from the banks and financial institutions.

  • Lack of appropriate technical training. Compared with urban youth, the rural youth’s qualifications and educational level is much lower. Although there are many supporting policies to provide rural youth with trainings these do not have suitable contents, methods or do not meet their needs. There is a need to organize the training courses on agricultural production knowledge, linking to markets and applying modern science and technology.

  • Difficulty in selling agricultural products. Farmers cannot sell their products and sometimes have to sell at very low price. The regional production plan is not good as some crops are produced over what the market demands. Most products also lack the necessary certification for safe organic products as the certification system is not managed and operated well.

  • Lack of access to markets and marketing skills. Farmers do not easily to access market and young people also lack marketing skills. They depend on middlemen, so the agricultural products’ price is low due to selling through middleman.

  • Lack of funds for community social activities (such as socio-cultural activities of youth union at grassroots level). Infrastructure for cultural activities is poor.

Cambodia. According to Farmer and Nature Net (FNN), young farmers in Cambodia face the following challenges:

  • Small landholdings or landlessness;

  • No income from farming due to costly agricultural inputs;

  • Lack of irrigation and water storage systems;

  • Effects of climate change;

  • Lack of experience and skills in agriculture techniques;

  • Marketing problems, including information price and volume;

  • No policy support to youth in rural development.

Bangladesh. Kendrio Krishok Moitree (KKM) believes that the rural youth in Bangladesh do not find farming a profitable business due to a faulty market-oriented system that is totally controlled by big landowners and middlemen. The challenges young farmers face include the following:

  • Lack of access to land. Most of the lands are not available for the youth for farming and are in the hands of medium and big farmers who are mainly absentee farmers. Rich people and corporations are also grabbing agricultural lands.

  • Lack of capital. Modern agriculture needs huge investment but it is difficult for the youth to manage capital support from financing institutions.

  • Agriculture is a very risky profession made more so due to climate change.

  • Agriculture is a very laborious job because mechanization is limited.

  • A politically-biased system has resulted in most government support and services going to medium and big farmers.

  • There is no dignity in the farming profession to attract the youth. Young farmers usually have no education or other skills or alternative professions. Very few educated youth are attracted to the farming profession.

  • In general, the educated youth are interested in entrepreneurship for monoculture-based chemical farming like high value crop cultivation, poultry farm, dairy farm, fish farm, fruit farm, etc which are not sustainable. The general trend of such farming is that it gives higher yield and profit during starting stage but as time passes cost of production become higher and profit margin goes lower. In such situation the entrepreneurs either stop the business or shift to other new enterprises. Therefore, such farming is not sustainable.

Nepal. According to NLRF, the virtual lack of government support, poverty and unemployment has been leading to the brain drain and migration of young people nationally from rural areas to urban and nationally to overseas, resulting in less labor available to the agricultural sector. The problems faced by young farmers are several: lack of technical knowledge and agricultural inputs, traditional farming and low productivity, lack of access to credits, pest and disease problem, unavailability of land, lack of market, and exclusion in policy-making processes. Despite the decline in interest in agriculture, young people are still working in their farms as a last source of subsistence and livelihood.

  • Lack of agricultural land. Those youth who want to farm lack agricultural land. While those people who have land do not want to go into farming.

  • Cultural factors. Agriculture is not seen culturally as a respectable profession. There is persistent perception of agriculture as an outdated field with minimal financial returns. Young people are not interested in continuing in agriculture because they do not see much prospect in the future of agriculture and they do not see it is as an active profession in the long-run, hence many of the smallholder farmers are quite old. Youth have become disenchanted towards agriculture because there is no role model established so far for their motivation.

  • Production issues. The youth lack technical knowledge in commercial farming. Young farmers are challenged with financial credit due to lack of collateral. Subsistence-oriented farming also discourage the youth to go into agriculture.

  • Exclusion of young farmers. Young farmers are not included in policy making and their voices are not being heard. There is a lack of youth involvement in agricultural activities at local level, and there is a lack of co-operation among young farmers.

Mongolia. According to NAMAC, herders and farmers in Mongolia are the resource creators who provide healthy food for people, material and stock for industries. It is hence worrisome that the number of farmers and herders, especially the younger ones, has been decreasing in the last 10 years. Young farmers perform a number of activities such as producing and selling dairy products; supplying livestock output to market; planting commodity vegetables and crops; planting and preparing feed and fodder. Young farmers need more opportunities to earn at least a subsistence wage. Other worrying trends are urbanization, not having enough livestock to earn a living wage, lack of driving force for youth in rural areas, and lack of policies supporting youth in agriculture.

  • Urbanization. The flight of youth and family farmers from the rural to the urban areas is directly associated with the difference between city and rural area development. Also, because students have been equipped with less knowledge on careers in agriculture, they opt to vie primarily for careers in the urban districts. Additionally, the large numbers of youth that serve in the Mongolian military almost always opt to settle in urban areas and pursue urban careers upon the conclusion of their service. Young people increasingly dismiss the prospect of rural settlement due to the relative lack of government and information technology services available in rural areas.

  • No driving force of support for youth in rural areas. There is no longer a standard for herding methodology, nor is there youth pride and satisfaction in being a herder. Also, traditional methods are no longer being passed down by elders to the youth, which means this source of traditional best practice exchange is no longer serving to bolster youth interest in the herding sector. Thus, it is important to support the young herders’ social activities and create national programs to cure the educational and social issues of youth in agriculture.

  • Lack of policies supporting youth in agriculture. Existing laws and policies only support livestock, crops, and vegetables, but the herders and farmers are not directly considered. The policies do not focus on producers such as herders and farmers who are the major factors of production. Only one law, i.e., The Policy Proposal on Young Herders, focuses directly on the herders and farmers which contains one clause: “3.3.10. The Government should support strategic plans for preparing young and future herders by providing non-degree and short-term professional education; by developing distant-learning programs; and by collaborating with media organizations.” There is also no policy that addresses the particular concerns of youth in agriculture.

  • Small number of livestock. The numbers of families who have less than 100 head of livestock have decreased, and the numbers of families who have more than 200 head of livestock have increased. A family owning many livestock experiences a relatively favorable living condition, while a family owning few livestock is unable to cover their living expenses and thus has an incentive to migrate to the city.

  • Livestock vulnerability to risks. Due to climate change, there has been an increase in the frequency of winter Zuds (blizzards) and Summer Gans (droughts) which make livestock quality lower and increases livestock susceptibility to risks. Mongolia’s livestock is also vulnerable to risks due to inadequate shelter to shield from climate disaster, lack of fodder, an absence of reserve pasture land and lack of herding methodology.

Other issues faced by young farmers and herders in Mongolia are: (i) lack of information; (ii) lack of working place; (iii) significant development differences between town and rural; (iv) poor living and financial conditions; (v) lack of skilled workers due to bad educational system (vi) high manufacturing expenses but low income; (vii) no sales chain; (viii) low prices of agricultural products; (ix) lack of collateral for loans; (x) lack of health and social insurance; (xi) lack or constant policy changes in agriculture; and (xii) lack of seed policy.

Kyrgystan. According to UWUA, youth unemployment in rural areas is a major problem due to the lack of competitiveness, limited opportunities for self-employment, lack of professional qualifications and lack of initial capital. Rural youth also have limited access to infrastructure, services and opportunities for self-realization and do not link their fate to farming. There is a high rate of overseas migration that has both positive (e.g. reducing tension on domestic labor market, huge remittances) and negative (loss of professional/skilled workers, family problems) effects. Migrant remittances are not being invested into agriculture but on household consumption. Young farmers also face the following challenges:

  • Lack of knowledge about beneficial methods of farming;

  • Lack of opportunity in obtaining information and exchanges among farmers;

  • High rate of bank loan (30% per annum);

  • No access to sell agricultural goods at fair price;

  • Lack of quality seeds or expensive seeds;

  • Shortage of water supply, poor irrigation structures and lack of gender equality in water users associations.

  • Lack of support from government and programs advocating for young farmers;

  • Lack of program for women in agriculture, and lack of adequate conditions for employed women;

  • Lack of social-cultural activities or youth recreation or rural youth organizations.

South Korea. According to Korean Advanced Farmers Federation (KAFF) / Water Advanced Farmers Federation (WAFF), until the 1980’s Korea’s population consisted mainly of family farmers. But since the 1990s, many of the farmlands have been taken over by corporations who have extended their operations into the farming industry. Today, the major challenges facing young farmers in South Korea include the following:

  • Next generation of family farmers as rapid economic growth has resulted in urbanization and a decrease in the rural population which in turn results in labor shortage in the farms. Hence, government support for agriculture has dramatically increased in recent years.

  • Financial support to young farmers. Developed countries provide loan at very low interest rate to revitalize young farmers which Korea could emulate.

  • Free trade agreements (FTAs) signed by the government with many countries triggering huge farmers protests since agriculture is negatively impacted by the FTAs.

  • Replacement of military services. Korea is the only separated country in the world and has mandatory military service that has created a gap in young workforce in the farm.

  • Climate change and natural disasters like typhoons, earthquakes, heavy rains and drought. Since 2000, South Korea has experienced heavy climate change effects; during winter the snow destroys houses and farms and many farmers cannot continue farming.

Japan. According to AIOUKAI, Japan’s agricultural population is decreasing, from 2.6 million five years ago to 747,000 today, or a 22.3% decrease. Japanese farmers are also aging, with the average age at 65.8 years. The most urgent tasks are to encourage newcomers to agriculture, find successors of family farmers and reduce the number of those who leave the sector through favorable conditions that keep farmers in agriculture. It has been noted that the crisis in Japan’s agriculture is due to the difficulty in finding successors, more agricultural land being abandoned and damaged by the foraging of animals, and rising prices of fuel and feed (Japan Times 2013). Japan’s possible entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade plan may also bankrupt small-scale agricultural producers.

2c. Initiatives to Support Youth in Agriculture in Asia
This section provides a summary of ongoing initiatives to support youth in agriculture being undertaken by AFA members, as well as existing policies and programs that address the concerns of young farmers or rural youth in AFA member countries (also see Annex B).
Indonesia. API also has initiated several programs to attract youth to agriculture: (i) Share knowledge among farmers, youth and elder farmers through “musyawarah” or popular discussions which is an important part of family farming; (ii) Develop young farmers’ organizations and engaging more participation of women and youth in family farming; (iii) Network among farmers’ organizations at national level and hosting exchange/learning visits; (iv) Promote role of women, e.g., reading Quran together, training on finance; (v) Handle pests and diseases of vegetables and tobacco using farmers’ own methods; (vi) Provide product profiling and market information; (vii) Invite extension officers related to agricultural policy; (viii) Promote policies beneficial to tobacco farmers; and (ix) Promote participatory local seeds development (see Box 1 – Story of Rifai).
Philippines. PAKISAMA trains young farmers in Integrated Diversified Organic Farming Systems (IDOFs) to expose the youth organic farming. PAKISAMA members are also trained in family farm planning, i.e., an inclusive and participatory system of planning by parents/elders and young family members in the development and management of their farms (Box 2 – Story of Jon and Ana).
There are existing laws that aim to improve the plight of young farmers: (i) Youth in Nation-Building Act of 1994 which mandates the formulation of a Philippine Youth Development Plan; (ii) Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988 which redistributes agricultural land to the landless and farmworkers; (iii) Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 which protects the right of fisherfolk in the preferential use of municipal waters; (iv) Indigenous Peoples Rights Act which recognizes and promotes the rights of indigenous peoples; (v) Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 which mandates a comprehensive organic farming program; (vi) Farm Mechanization Law of 2013 which will enhance farmers’ productivity and income through agricultural machines; and (vii) Rural Farm School Act of 2013 which establishes rural farm schools in every province free from tuition and other fees.
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