Investing in farmers – what is known as ‘agriculture human capital’ – is crucial to addressing challenges facing our global agri-food systems, from sustainably feeding the world’s growing population with food that is safe, healthy and nutritious to finding innovative solutions for more resilient and climate-smart agriculture. Investing in farmers is just as important as investing in infrastructure and other physical capital. Yet less than 3 percent of global agriculture development finance between 2015 and 2018 was invested specifically in strengthening the skills and capacities of agricultural producers.
How do you invest in building the human capital of agricultural producers? What factors make that investment successful? The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and IFPRI, with support from PIM, sought answers to these and other questions in their joint global study. This report provides a synthesis of that study’s findings. It looks at recent trends, including shifts in financing and increased digitalisation. It also provides six recommendations to governments, international financial institutions (IFIs) and the private sector on investing in developing the human capital of agricultural producers, including women and youth.
Human capital, as an economic term, refers to assets that improve individual productivity. These include skills development, training and education, as well as public health and migration. They also include more abstract aspects such as self-esteem, empowerment, creativity, increased awareness and mindsets. In this report, the focus is on human capital in agriculture (including agriculture, fisheries and forestry activities) – that is, the skills and capabilities of small-scale agricultural producers to successfully manage farming enterprises. And it looks at individual human capital rather than that of organizations or groups, although these are important and linked to individual capital.
The research team carried out work in several stages, beginning with literature and dataset reviews to inform the current trends and typology development. This was followed by the collection of empirical data from published case studies on human capital development in Cameroon, Chile, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru, Rwanda and the United States of America. An additional 11 cases developed as short text boxes – ranging from pastoralist training centres to the inclusion of indigenous communities – enriched the analysis, as did iterative engagement processes, key informant interviews, an economic evaluation of agricultural human capital investment and discussions with experts.
A global group of experts validated the typology, co-developed case study selection criteria and helped select the cases. The team presented the study’s framework during an initial global webinar, followed by a technical workshop and culminating with a “capstone” event to share the study’s findings and gather feedback from a global audience.
The cases studied – whether formal, system-wide approaches or more informal farmer-to-farmer models – saw the development of technical agricultural skills, functional …….