We examine local conceptualizations and definitions of the youth and how they influence youth inclusion in sustainable agriculture intensification (SAI) in Ghana and Malawi amidst challenges of high youth unemployment and underemployment, food insecurity, and rural out-migration. We use data from focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Definitions of youth(hood) varied among communities and agricultural officials based on age mediated by multiple socio-cultural, demographic, biological, economic, and relational factors. Conceptual mismatches between national formal and local definitions, and negative perceptions of youths undermined youth inclusion. Unpacking and harmonizing conceptualizations of youths as human capital and youth as transitional condition with local definitions that also foster positive youth identities and cultures, and treating dependent and independent youth separately, can reveal meaningful, youth-inclusive intervention points. It can enhance youth opportunity spaces and agency for their increased engagement in SAI, and help to avoid misguided policies arising from conceptual reductionism of youth.

Zulu, L.C., Djenontin, I.N.S., Kamoto, J.F. et al. Do youth conceptualizations influence the inclusion of young people in sustainable agriculture intensification? Insights from Ghana and Malawi. Environ Dev Sustain (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10668-022-02632-9

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