The Future of Work in Agriculture

Venue: Main Complex, Room MC 2-800, World Bank, 1818 H Street, Washington DC 20433

Agriculture has been a major employer across the globe, and it is at the center of discussions about poverty reduction and development. As countries develop, agriculture’s role as employer declines. The farm workforce becomes older, more wage-oriented, and less domestic. In high-income countries (and many not-so-high income ones) a number of agricultural subsectors rely today primarily on an immigrant hired farm work force. As employment in agriculture shrinks, the broader food system expands and the scope for agriculture-related jobs shifts beyond the farm. The rapidly unfolding digital revolution (information and communications technology, artificial intelligence, machine learning) is further shaping these transformations in new and unprecedented ways. It creates the prospect of a future with robots in the fields and packing plants, “tekked up” farmworkers to complement new technological solutions, and changes in the demand for foreign agricultural wage labor.  This conference seeks to shed light on a host of questions related to the future of agricultural work. How countries address these and related challenges will shape the future of work in agriculture, as well as agriculture’s potential to continue its historical role in poverty reduction and in fostering shared prosperity.

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