Support University on Agriculture Research Activities


Open to all RPCVs

Activity/project background

Partner: Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Tribhuwan University Nepal (Government)

The Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) will support faculty and students at Tribhuvan University (TU) in Nepal to co-design standard research protocols, and provide virtual mentoring and coaching to students undertaking field-based agriculture research.

Established in 1959, Tribhuvan University (TU) is a pioneering national institution of higher education in Nepal. The Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS) is an autonomous academic center of TU for imparting education in Agriculture, Animal Sciences, and Veterinary Science. The main objectives of the institute are to design and implement educational programs with an appropriate balance between established and emerging needs in the agricultural sector; introduce innovative ways of teaching, research, and technology dissemination; and promote research and studies catering to the needs of farmers in Nepal. IAAS currently runs its academic programs through four constituent campuses and five affiliated campuses across the country, offering different undergraduate and postgraduate programs to students pursuing agriculture in their higher studies.

As per a study by the Integrated Regional International Network, the ratio of agriculture technicians to farmers in Nepal is 1:1500 whereas the number is 1:400 in many developed countries. IAAS aims to fill this gap by training competent human resources in agriculture and allied disciplines, and to promote research, development, and technology dissemination in agriculture. In November 2022, IAAS and Peace Corps Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding that the partnership aims to enhance the capacity of agriculture campuses in producing skilled human resources for the expansion of agriculture extension services to rural communities. A particular need at IAAS is to support faculty and students to design and implement field-based research in agriculture. IAAS is seeking a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to support their agricultural research program.

The Partner has not previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer. They understand that the role of a VSPP is very different than a two-year Volunteer.

Virtual service engagement and tasks

The VSPP will engage in the following tasks, in collaboration with their Host Country Partners:

• Collaborate with 20 faculty members and 30 master’s degree level students on assessing ongoing research activities in the campuses and identify the priorities for student-led research activities
• Co-design and co-facilitate virtual training on the following topics: the basics to normality test and normality assumptions, parametric and non-parametric tests, Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA), Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA), and Principal Component Analysis (PCA)
• Explore and appreciate intercultural aspects of agriculture research, holidays, and priorities of the United States and Nepal

This engagement is expected to be approximately 12 weeks. VSPPs are expected to engage on the tasks listed above for an estimated 5-15 hours per week.

Meetings between VSPPs and Host Country Counterparts will take place during normal office hours, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Nepal time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to Internet, WhatsApp, and email for regular communication and collaboration.

Per the Child Protection Code of Conduct, when engaging online with minors (0-18), two adults must be present.

Optional additional activities

The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women.
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Goal 1 will be achieved through the VSPP's engagement and completion of the above tasks. The counterpart and VSPP may also choose to identify an activity that aligns with Goal 2. Additionally, the VSPP may identify a Goal 3 activity to implement during their engagement. See recommendations and tools for Goal 3 activities.

Essential qualifications

Education: Master’s degree in agriculture, animal science, agriculture economics, statistics, research, sociology, agriculture extension, or another related area.

Experience: 2 years’ experience in research assistance, including the use of different statistical tools

Intercultural skills and motivation: Flexible, strong cross-cultural agility, high tolerance for ambiguity, able to work independently, resourceful, creative, and genuinely motivated and capable to serve virtually

Desired qualifications

Education: Master’s degree in agriculture statistics

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

• Experience and previous knowledge in food security and climate change initiatives
• Experience in community organizing and experience in academia
• Experience in conducting field-research activities
• Experience in research, peer-review, editing and publication
• Experience in publishing research articles

Terms and conditions of engagement

VSPPs will be engaging with the host country partner, in coordination with Peace Corps post staff, remotely from the US. They should have access to a computer, internet, and telephone in order to enable direct engagement with the Peace Corps overseas office and the Host Country Counterpart assigned by the host country partner.

Orientation with the host country partner will be provided, within the designated virtual service hours, during the first week of virtual service via an online presentation and discussion. The host country partner will provide an overview of its organization, the local context, and how they envision collaborating with the VSPP.

The VSPP will have regular check-ins with their counterpart and bi-weekly check-ins with Peace Corps staff. Spending unstructured time with counterparts can be critical to relationship-building and is encouraged through activities such as coffee chats and informal calls within the weekly 5-15 hours.

Engagement-specific safety and security

The VSPP will receive an orientation on Peace Corps’ Child Protection Policy and how it relates to online engagement along with IT security best practices. The VSPP will be expected to follow safety and security guidelines for online engagement to ensure their safety and that of the Host Country Partner and their counterpart, and any beneficiaries of the engagement.

Supervision requirements

The VSPP will report to a designated Peace Corps staff member. The VSPP will be expected to abide by the Virtual Service Pilot Participant and Donation Agreement and Participant Principles of Engagement. The VSPP will also be expected to check in with the designated host country counterpart as assigned by the host county partner.

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