The Youth Learning Lab is a space to share innovative experiences to inspire and inform action on youth access to land. The last of three roundtable discussions focused on access to land through market-based mechanisms.
Access to land through markets is increasingly difficult for young people who often lack financial resources or credit. Further, market imperfections, including information asymmetries, present additional entry barriers for youth. Therefore, strong private and public institutions are pivotal to creating sustainable, youth-friendly, inclusive and people-centred land markets.
Yannick Fiedler, Programme Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), moderated the roundtable discussion that explored different market-based mechanisms employed in Italy, the United States of America and Tunisia to enhance youth access to land.
Enabling the Business of Agriculture through youth-friendly laws and regulations
Giovanni Razeto is Director of the Youth Entrepreneurship Development Department at Istituto di Servizi per il Mercato Agricolo Alimentare (ISMEA).
ISMEA is a public economic body established in 1947 under the Italian Ministry of Agriculture to enhance youth access to land, farm investments, credit loans, insurance and market risk analyses. ISMEA’s agri-food market and debt analyses provide young Italian farmers with transparent and tailor-made solutions. Specifically, ISMEA buys and resells lands averaging 20 hectares to young farmers under 30-year mortgage loans, thus ensuring young farmers’ access to farming land. Additionally, ISMEA manages the Banca Nazionale delle Terre Agricole, which has a comprehensive inventory of abandoned and available agricultural lands; and natural, structural and infrastructural characteristics of the lands. The Bank advertises land information, terms and conditions for sale and purchase of such lands and sells about 60 farms a year.
Generational renewal in agriculture
ISMEA supports different Italian regions to reorganise their farming activities by expanding agricultural properties. They also ensure generational renewal in agriculture by investing in new and climate-smart technologies.
“We do not ask for any (collateral) guarantees from young people, which is an added value to young people who want to start a farming business”
Land Access for Next Generation Farmers
Ian McSweeney is the Organizational Director of Agrarian Trust in the United States of America.
In the USA, land is concentrated in the hands of private and public corporations, foreign investors, non-profit entities, blind trusts, pension funds and a few private individuals, most of whom are over 64 years. Conversely, farmers or farm institutions do not own farmland, presenting a risk to farmers, who often lack land tenure security. Consequently, the Department of Agricultural Statistics states that 37 small-to-medium-sized farms close each day permanently.
(photo credits: Jason Taylor)
The path is made by walking
The Agrarian Trust is a private benefit corporation and a non-profit entity that raises awareness about land concentration in the USA. Specifically, the Trust developed the Agrarian Commons Model, which seeks to harness the impending transition of farmlands by moving land out of private ownership, and into community holding structures that enhance land access, affordability, equity and tenure security. In light of the prediction that over 400 million acres of farmland will transfer ownership this decade and the next, the Trust created community-centred and community-controlled landholding commons across the USA as a model for inspiration, learning, innovation. The commons purchase and own farms, and in turn, lease them to farmers under 99-year leaseholds, providing tenure security and long-term equity building. The Trust then permanently owns the land and prescribes farming practices and stewardship standards to farmers. To share knowledge, the Trust has created a toolkit and a library of replicable resources on the Agrarian Commons Model, including resource mobilisation strategies.
Young Agri-Entrepreneurs: The Present and Future of Agriculture and Family Farming
Amani Riahi is an agricultural engineer and graduate of the National Research Institute for Agriculture in Tunisia and currently manages an agricultural consulting firm funded by the European Union and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
To start an agricultural project and purchase land, Amani obtained a loan from the Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency of Tunisia (Agence de Promotion des Investissements Agricoles - APIA). The Agency dedicated a loan facility to young farmers and agricultural technicians interested in rejuvenating land to prevent land subdivision and fragmentation. The projects not only promote national food security but also generate employment opportunities for unemployed youth. Agriculture is an efficient solution to absorb socio-economic problems in Tunisia. As such, more young people flock to the agricultural sector. Young men and women of various socio-economic, professional and educational backgrounds seek agrarian training.
(photo credits: Jason Taylor)
Moving forward together
Amani benefited from collaboration with international organisations. She received technical support from FAO, where she learned about the value-addition and processing of agricultural products. She also collaborated with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which enabled her to extend her farming project.
“I want to contribute to the economic development of my country and be a good example for the youth who want to venture into farming”
Towards youth-friendly mechanisms that support access to land
Different market-based mechanisms exist to assist youth to access land in different socio-economic contexts. The investment incentives, leases and loans provided by state-owned ISMEA in Italy and the Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency in Tunisia have emerged in economies in which the state steers economic development. In the USA, the Agrarian Commons Model helps young people access land in a context where land markets are less regulated, and private institutions play a leading role in enhancing inclusive economic development. When seeking inspiration from these models, it is vital to acknowledge that they are conceived and embedded within broader socio-economic frameworks. Generally, ancillary technical and advisory facilities to enable the youth to use their land to sustain their farming businesses should accompany the different market-based mechanisms. Market analyses such as those proposed by ISMEA can help young people identify business opportunities.
HOW DO YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN SUCCEED IN ACCESSING LAND? EXPLORE THE YOUTH LEARNING LAB! LISTEN TO ROUNDTABLES, LEARN FROM INNOVATIVE EXPERIENCES, ACCESS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES