Shared Harvests: Agriculture, Trade, and Employment (ILO-UNCTAD)

The edited volume “Shared Harvests: Agriculture, Trade and Employment” is the outcome of a technical cooperation project entitled “Assessing and Addressing the Effects of Trade and Employment” managed jointly by the European Commission and the International Labour Office (ILO) with funding from the European Union, and collaborative work between the ILO and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The research findings in this volume emphasize the need to make agriculture (or re-establish it as) a high policy priority, particularly in the domains of development, trade, and employment.


Agriculture employs more than a billion people in developing countries, representing 48 per cent of the developing-country labour force. This book analyses how agricultural trade affects labour markets in developing countries and in particular what it implies for the creation and destruction of jobs in the agricultural sector. Given that many agricultural workers are members of poor households, the relationship between trade and jobs in the agricultural sector is highly relevant for poverty reduction and broader development strategies.

The book presents the findings of a series of assessments at the country, regional, and global levels of the employment impacts of agricultural trade. It discusses how concerns about agricultural employment are reflected in national trade policies and regional and multilateral trade agreements. Furthermore, the book attempts to shed light on how changes in productivity, food security, rural–urban migration, skills and domestic regulation affect the relationship between trade and employment in the agricultural sector.

The evidence presented in this book indicates that agricultural trade is unlikely to produce job miracles or to lead to dramatic job losses. However, agricultural trade can be an opportunity for development and employment. The analysis highlights the importance of gradual trade liberalization with social protection to reduce the vulnerability of agricultural workers and targeted promotion of agricultural productivity to enhance competitiveness in global markets.