It is widely assumed that young people in rural areas are no longer attracted to work in the agricultural sector, especially small scale agriculture. On the other hand, small scale agriculture in Indonesia is still the nation's biggest absorber of labour.
In the future, young people's abandonment of agriculture could be a serious threat for social reproduction in the agricultural sector and rural society. Based on that concern, this study analyses young men and women's preference and involvement in farming, and factors that influence it. The research was carried out in 12 villages in 3 provinces with high rice production (West Java, Central Java, and South Sulawesi). This research found that on the one hand, rural youth are not attracted to work in agriculture, but in fact many are still involved in agriculture. Their involvement in farming, generally, is only as family labour and wage worker. For young people who are interested to become farmers, it is almost impossible to get access to farm land while still young. This is one reason why young people decide to migrate. But the decision ‘to farm or not to farm' is not necessarily a decision for life; many of today's farmers have a history of migration, and returned when they had accumulated savings and/or when land became available. For these reasons, the authors do not feel that there will be any serious problem of regeneration of the small-farm sector in the future. One kind of farm work that is attractive for young men and women is rice harvesting. But now rice harvesting is threatened by the introduction of combine harvester technology. This technology can be operated only by 6-7 persons, while manual rice harvesting needs about 30 labourers per hectare. There are many factors that influence young people's preference and involvement in agriculture, namely: access to land, the presence and quality of non farm occupation, young people's image of agriculture and rural life, and educational level.