Strengthen Agricultural Extension Training Program in Jamaica

Activity/project background

Partner: Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) (Government)

The Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries in Jamaica. RADA was established under the Rural Agricultural Development Authority Act of 1990, replacing the Land Authorities Act and began its operation on August 1, 1990. It is Jamaica’s chief agricultural extension and rural development agency, with a clear vision to become the leader in the drive towards achieving national economic growth and stability through agricultural development.

The core function of the organization is to provide technical advice to farmers and improve the quality of life of rural farm families. RADA extension staff need to gain additional knowledge and skills in extension methodologies related to improving farm operations and provision of technical support to farmers. This will play a crucial role in boosting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of economic growth.

RADA is requesting a Virtual Service Pilot Participant (VSPP) to provide training on the following topics: key concepts, principles, and methods in agricultural extension, extension communications, use of extension to encourage the adoption and diffusion of innovation in agriculture, and the use of Farmer Field Schools to extend information to farmers.

RADA has previously worked with a Peace Corps Volunteer and a Virtual Service Pilot Participant. 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:
• Co-assess the skill level and training needs of agriculture extension staff
• Review, adapt and develop training materials specific to address the training needs identified
• Assist in training extension staff in the following skill areas: farmer training needs assessments, best practices in agricultural extension training, program planning and facilitation techniques, and group or team building techniques to promote sustainability
• Conduct one (1) training session for 2 hours per week with extension staff
• Meet with counterpart for 2 hours each week to prepare for weekly sessions
• Discuss and submit progress report following the training and incorporate lessons learnt into follow-on trainings

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, 8:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on Mondays to Thursdays and 8:30am-4:00pm on Fridays Jamaica standard time. Specific times will be determined during orientation.

The Host Country Counterpart will have access to computer, internet, Zoom, and telephone (WhatsApp) 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: Bachelor’s degree in any field

• Working with/in rural communities
• 2 years of experience working in agriculture, with farmer or agricultural training, or extension education

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: Bachelor’s degree in agricultural science or other related fields

Technical Skills: Familiarity with virtual engagement and communication

Language: Basic understanding of Jamaican Language (patois) and culture

• 5 year’s experience in agriculture, forestry, or related experience
• Experience in the use of technology for farmer education
• Experience training adults

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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