Creating more and better employment in agrifood systems

Published by: CGIAR Rethinking Food Markets Initiative

Authored by: Berdegué, J. A.; Trivelli, C.; Corvalán, C.

Publication Date: July 27, 2023

The One CGIAR Research Initiative on “Rethinking Food Markets and Value Chains for Inclusion and Sustainability” commissioned a meta-study to review the available evidence and to identify knowledge gaps regarding the impacts on employment in agrifood value chains integration and modernization processes in developing countries. This review included 290 texts, mostly journal articles, but also book chapters and reports.

The main messages of this report are as follows:

  • Agrifood systems (AFS) in much of the Global South have evolved within a structural transformation “lite.”
  • AFS represents a substantial source of employment in low- and middle-income countries. Agriculture, although its share is diminishing, is the main AFS employer. Non-farm activities within AFS increase their share in total AFS employment.
  • While there are general patterns towards better AFS employment conditions, particular situations vary greatly based on a number of determinants; policy options must be tailored to each context.
  • The better employment options mainly benefit better off, middle-aged men.
  • The bright spots of AFS employment are overrepresented in the 290 documents reviewed.

Based on the reviewed literature, 13 innovations, interventions, and policies were identified as promising to increase employment in AFS, improve AFS employment inclusivity, and/or generate better working conditions in AFS. These 13 innovations, interventions, and policies are well documented in the literature. Some have been evaluated in specific locations and are frequently mentioned as promising options that require more analysis to become sound recommendations on how to improve AFS employment in the Global South.These 13 identified innovations, interventions, and policies are promising, but still require more research and debate about how to obtain the identified positive effects in different contexts. The research challenge for most of them is to identify how to implement them effectively in different settings and get the same or better results.