Agriculture, Youth Employment and ‘Decent Work’

14 March 2021
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CIDT’s Professor Philip Dearden engaged a large audience on the theme of Agriculture, Youth Employment and ‘Decent Work’ in this webinar with Central Agricultural University, Imphal, India.

Phil chose a rather personal medium to explore this topic as he explains in this short blog:

“I was delighted to receive the invitation from CIDT’s alumni Professor E. V Divakara Sastry who is now working at Central Agricultural University at Imphal in the North East of India.  I have very fond memories of Professor Sastry from when he attended a three-month course in CIDT in the late 1980s.

I also have very fond memories of working in India much earlier in my career, for example a most challenging evaluation study in 1989 of the Indian Krishi Vigyan Kendras (KVKs) with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. This strenuous three-month assignment took me across the whole of India, from Kerala to Kashmir and across to Kohima and included a visit with my colleague, Geoff Wilkinson, to the KVKs at Imphal and Nagaland.

CIDT has ‘earthy roots’ beginning its life as the AETU – Agricultural Education and Training Unit. However a personal as well as professional connection to the topic, led me to an examination of my paternal grandfather’s pictures of life on the land in the UK from 1920 – 1960.  Taking a social history approach to some of Harold Dearden’s paintings, I looked at some of the positive aspects of agricultural mechanisation replacing the hard physical work and drudgery of land based labour.  For me these visual images bring to life the past – and present! – challenges of why young people often do not choose to work on the land, within the context of the ongoing and persistent challenges of rural employment, both in the UK and elsewhere.

A collection of Harold Dearden’s ‘Life on the Land’ pictures

Spring Cabbage Pickers – Harold Dearden

Turnip Harvest – Harold Dearden – Courtesy of Swindon Art Gallery


Hurdle Maker by Harold Dearden

Hurdle Maker – Harold Dearden

Working the Fields by Harold Dearden

Working the Fields – Harold Dearden


Having provided a wide range of technical support to the International Labour Organisation, I know from my engagement of ILO stakeholders in many countries that the concept of “Decent Work” is paramount and highly significant in relation to agricultural development, inclusive and sustainable economic growth. “  See for example ILO work in Hungary, Macedonia, Montenegro , Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Moldova.

“Decent work ‘involves opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration, freedom for people to express their concerns, organise and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and equality of opportunity and treatment for all women and men'” (ILO, 2016)

Phil briefly examined the important and emergent need for ‘green growth’ and the wide ranging ‘attributes’ that young agricultural graduates will require in the future.

Graduate attributes table

In conclusion, Phil emphasised the need for continuous agricultural curriculum change and the need to provide agricultural graduates with a wide range of knowledge, skills and attitudes including those, which would enable them to be entrepreneurs and/or start their own enterprises.

Download the lecture slides and notes.