The Future of Work in Agriculture: Some Reflections

27 Pages Posted: 25 Mar 2020 Last revised: 27 Mar 2020

See all articles by Luc Christiaensen

Luc Christiaensen

World Bank

Zachariah Rutledge

University of California, Davis

J. Edward Taylor

University of California, Davis - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Date Written: March 24, 2020

Abstract

As countries develop (and food saturation takes hold), agriculture's role as domestic employer declines. But the broader agri-food system also expands, and the scope for agriculture-related job creation shifts beyond the farm. Historically, technological revolutions have shaped and been shaped by these dynamics. Today, a digital revolution is taking hold, affecting agricultural labor and skill demands. In this process, societies evolve from having a surplus to a shortage of domestic farm labor, typically met largely by foreign agricultural wage workers. Yet, anti-immigration sentiments are flying high in migrant-destination countries, and robots in the fields and packing plants offer an alternative. Agricultural trade may be similarly challenged. In the world's poorest countries, particularly in Africa, labor productivity in agriculture remains at historically low levels. So, what can the role of agriculture as a source of employment be in the future? This viewpoint elaborates on these trends and reviews several policy options, including inclusive value chain development, better immigration policies, social insurance schemes, and ramp up in agricultural education and extension.

Suggested Citation

Christiaensen, Luc and Rutledge, Zachariah and Taylor, J. Edward, The Future of Work in Agriculture: Some Reflections (March 24, 2020). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 9193, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3560626

Luc Christiaensen (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

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Zachariah Rutledge

University of California, Davis

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Apt 153
Davis, CA 95616
United States

J. Edward Taylor

University of California, Davis - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States
530-752-0213 (Phone)
530-752-5614 (Fax)

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