This research is titled Becoming a Young Farmers: Young People Pathways into Farming in Four Countries. This study takes an opposite approach to much of the research and related literature which generally focuses on examining the reasons young people leave agriculture. This research, instead, focuses more on tracing the routes young people take to agriculture. This is done by analyzing the experiences of young people from groups of men and women who want to become farmers. The main research question of this research is: given the constraints they will face, how can young people continue to try to keep farming? This study will be conducted in four countries: Indonesia, China, India, and Canada.
There were many reasons for the youths why they wanted to leave the village and, conversely, the agricultural prospects seemed unattractive. The mass media often depicts rural areas and farmers as backward and poor. However, this research also shows that for the majority of the group of young people studied, this problem is not only due to the image of village and agricultural life. They decided to move to a remote area due to the lack of jobs around their (local) residence, as well as the current situation where income from small-scale farming is minimal. Many dimensions of rural life are changing rapidly. In many villages, connectivity is now as good as in cities; inexpensive motorcycles used by many people; all young people are busy with social media. The youth in this study demonstrated an active engagement with global ideas and lifestyles which may have led them to see rural and farming life differently from the eyes of their parents.
If Indonesia’s rice and food needs are to be met in the future mainly by farmers, and not by big food industries favored by technocrats, it is very important to show that rural life and agriculture must be more attractive to young people. A clear understanding of the main barriers – both practical and cultural – for young people to enter agriculture, whether at a young age or as a future option is urgently needed. Through migration, young people with all their decisions not to become farmers need to be seen from a long-term perspective of life.
The issues of youth and access to land need to be taken seriously. The issue of this generation has attracted little attention in land policy discourse. Efforts are needed to look at the possibility of expropriating land from the private property market and allocating it to appropriate uses for and by young people; and also to find ways to curb speculative investment in land. Although men and women formally have the same rights to own land, there are many gender issues and barriers to young women’s access to land tenure and agricultural opportunities.
Indonesian youth are the most important source of innovation, energy and creativity in developing new agricultural practices that are environmentally friendly and highly productive. Much can be done in public education, in the public media, and in particular in social media to improve the prevailing picture of agricultural and rural life.