Despite a burgeoning literature on youth employment, little is known about the economic activities of rural youth, including whether rural transformation, seen through the lens of the agrifood system (AFS) will create new opportunities for youth. Using data on hours worked of 467,453 workingage individuals in four age cohorts (early youth, later youth, early adulthood, later adulthood) and a rural-urban gradient based on population density (rural hinterland, intermediate, peri-urban and urban zones) in 188,996 households in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, we provide empirical evidence on this gap in literature. We find that no region allocates more than 37 per cent of their labour hours to on-farm employment, but when including off-farm AFS self- and wage employment, total AFS accounts for half of all hours worked. Even in Latin America, off-farm AFS accounts for 21 per cent of hours worked, demonstrating the importance of pre- and postfarm value added for employment creation. Youth appear to access off-farm AFS opportunities more easily than non-AFS ones, especially wage employment in urban and peri-urban zones. These findings dispute the narrative that youth do not enter farming and cannot get wage jobs, as youth work substantial hours in both sectors with distinct spatial patterns.