In Peace Corps’ growing agriculture sector, volunteers work with small farmers to improve access to food

April 22, 2019

WASHINGTON - Peace Corps agriculture volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production, and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation. Over the 2018 fiscal year, 11,474 individuals in 14 countries received nutrition training from Peace Corps agriculture volunteers.

As recently as 2015, Peace Corps’ agriculture sector accounted for just 5% of the volunteer population. Today, agriculture is Peace Corps’ fourth largest sector, accounting for 9% of all volunteer positions.

“Volunteers who serve in the agriculture sector are a vital part of the work that this agency does,” says Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen. “Along with their dedicated host country partners, they are striving to address some of the most serious challenges that face rural communities around the world—including hunger, drought, nutrition deficiencies and natural resource depletion. I am very proud of the important work volunteers and their counterparts are doing, and I want to thank them for their willingness to share their expertise with others.”

Since 1961, over 22,900 Peace Corps volunteers have served in the agriculture sector, not including 683 agriculture volunteers currently serving in 15 countries around the world. Senegal boasts the largest Peace Corps agriculture program, with 81 individuals working with communities and small farmers in the small West African country.

Noah Nieting of Bloomington, Minnesota, is a currently serving agriculture volunteer in Benin. “Its development approach is holistic in blending attention to the economic, environmental, nutritional, and technological dimensions of hunger and food security in poor communities,” Nieting says of his work. “Improving food security requires a fight on all these fronts, which makes the sector both fulfilling to work in and effective as a change-maker.”

Volunteers are not only addressing food security and nutrition deficiencies, but also deforestation in their areas. With the assistance of 217 agriculture volunteers, 157,227 trees were planted and 2,149 new tree nurseries were created over the last fiscal year. Working alongside farmers, agriculture volunteers often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry and nutrition education into their community projects.

View open positions in the agriculture sector here.

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, the environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 235,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide. For more information, visit peacecorps.gov and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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