This policy brief shows the role of agroforestry for young farmers’ livelihoods in several sub-Saharan African countries. It also outlines concrete recommendations for policymakers on using agroforestry as an inclusive approach that creates new opportunities for youth in food systems.

Young people are at the frontline of global challenges related to the effects of environmental and climate change, unemployment, increasing hunger and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Global challenges are not necessarily specific to youth; however, inequalities between young and old are increasing and young smallholder farmers and their livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to these crises since they more often lack networks, capital and long-term access to land. Furthermore, these challenges contribute to young people being increasingly forced to seek opportunities in urban areas due to the limited livelihood opportunities in rural areas.

To enable young people to remain in rural areas and sustain their livelihoods in food systems, the agriculture sector must be more resilient to economic and environmental shocks as well as become more inclusive and concerned with the specific needs of this group. Agroforestry can address multiple challenges that young farmers face as actors in food systems and simultaneously enable their greater participation in the management of, and decision-making for food systems and rural development.