Original Research

Youth’s participation in agriculture: A fallacy or achievable possibility? Evidence from rural South Africa

Unity Chipfupa, Aluwani Tagwi
South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences | Vol 24, No 1 | a4004 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajems.v24i1.4004 | © 2021 Unity Chipfupa, Aluwani Tagwi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 January 2021 | Published: 17 December 2021

About the author(s)

Unity Chipfupa, Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of South Africa, Roodepoort, South Africa
Aluwani Tagwi, Department of Agriculture and Animal Health, School of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of South Africa, Roodepoort, South Africa


Background: The realisation of more youth involvement in the agricultural sector has proved to be elusive, so the question of the possibility of a youth-led agriculture needs further investigation.

Aim: The aim of the study was to assess whether there is potential for the rural youth to participate in agriculture by employing the typology formulation approach.

Setting: The study is premised on recent calls for strategies to reduce youth unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa by involving and enhancing the agricultural sector.

Method: A survey in questionnaire form was conducted with 224 youths from two districts in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The Principal Components Analysis and K-Means Clustering were performed to determine the youth typologies and assess their potential.

Results: Five typologies were identified. Most youths (59.3%) were found in Typology 1 (those that see no benefits in farming) and in Typology 2 (older, experienced and with access to land). Typology 5 (male youths in agricultural cooperatives) had the lowest proportion of youths (5.7%). Participants in typologies 2, 3 and 5 were deemed to have high to moderate potential for successful engagement in farming. The highest potential was found in the typology with the least percentage of youths.

Conclusions: The typologies showed that youths have varying perceptions and aspirations regarding agriculture. While some show an interest and have the potential to participate in farming, others do not. Therefore, the blanket notion of the youth’s lack of interest in agriculture should be qualified as it does not always hold. The heterogeneity in characteristics among the youths in these typologies, including their potential to participate in agriculture, expresses the differences in the kinds of support needed to increase their participation.


typology formulation; the youth; agriculture; psychological capital; smallholder


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