Agricultural Economics Volunteer
Agribusiness & Economic Development Volunteers assist Ugandan households in achieving economic security and improved food security. Volunteers work with community members to build the capacity of women, youth and farmers to apply improved money management practices, develop their entrepreneurial potential, support the communities to implement income generating activities and increase households’ adoption of nutritious diets. Volunteers work in rural communities where people have a higher need for food security and economic development opportunities especially in areas not reached by other organizations. Volunteers also work with schools, health centers and other stakeholders to promote the adoption of nutritious diets among households.
In communities where Volunteers work, household members often lack the skills to pursue available employment opportunities, the capacity to create their own economic opportunities and the critical money management skills needed to manage household income and expenses. Volunteers collaborate with community members to strengthen the skills individuals need to contribute to the economic security and upward economic mobility of their households.
Activities may include:
• Train community groups on money management best practices such as budgeting, bookkeeping, record keeping and financial literacy
• Support the formation and strengthen village savings and loans associations
• Train youth on entrepreneurship
• Train youth, farmers and women on the selection and implementation of viable income generating activities
• Advise farmers on post-harvest handling to reduce waste and increase profitability through income generating activities
• Assist community members in preparing household gardens to grow variety of nutritious diets
• Train households on recipes that incorporate nutrient rich foods to improve women’s and children’s diets
Volunteers work with an array of groups and host-organizations, including farmers, women and youth groups, and coffee cooperatives as well as non-governmental, community-based, and faith-based organizations. Each host organization and community is unique in its needs, opportunities, and challenges. One opportunity is the need for financial literacy and saving training. Many Ugandans are small business owners, yet there is a lack of basic budgeting and recordkeeping skills. Many women cannot access loans as a result of conditions attached by banks and other lending institutions which hinder their financial inclusion process. Village saving and loans associations present a great opportunity for Volunteers to serve.
Your ability to cope with these challenges will depend on your flexibility, patience, humility, and good humor. Volunteers do not serve in communities to “fix” things. Rather, you will be most successful when you work with your community and host organization to collaboratively and creatively find ways to address issues with the limited resources that are locally available.
Peace Corps Uganda promotes gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. Volunteers receive training on gender challenges and have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During service, Volunteers look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms and increase girls’ sense of agency. As part of their work, Volunteers will also report on these efforts and their impact to the Peace Corps. Volunteers invited to this project are expected to work as professionals and will be periodically evaluated as such.
Following the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Agribusiness Volunteers shall contribute to the global fight against COVID-19 by leveraging its unique structure and reach to complement interagency and host country efforts to enable communities impacted by COVID-19 to recover from and return to normal livelihood activities within the communities.
Climate Change Activities
As the impacts of climate change become ever more evident, the social, economic, and environmental context within which smallholder farmers seek to maintain and improve their livelihood and support their families will continue to change. This will add significantly to the challenges of smallholder farming, particularly for the most disadvantaged communities. As a Peace Corps Volunteer, you will be trained to use a participatory approach and tools to identify locally determined priorities and conditions, including those related to the impacts of climate change. As an Agriculture Volunteer, you will be trained to use this local knowledge in engaging smallholder farmers in a climate-smart approach that:
• promotes the adoption of improved, appropriate, and adaptive agricultural practices and technologies that sustainably increase productivity;
• builds and strengthens household resilience by integrating and diversifying existing and new agriculture-related income-generating opportunities; and
• reduces greenhouse gas emissions attributable to ineffective and carbon intensive farming practices and encourages adoption of agricultural practices and activities that sequester carbon.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
As a Volunteer, you will be trained in how to best protect yourself from COVID-19 exposure and understand the impact of and steps to reduce stigma related to COVID-19. You may also have the opportunity to engage with your community on implementing or enhancing COVID-19 mitigation activities, such as COVID-19 prevention and risk reduction strategies including social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing, addressing myths and misconceptions related to these practices, and vaccine hesitancy. Activities will be tailored to address the COVID-19 circumstances in the communities where you will serve.
Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Economics or a degree combining agriculture and management, including agribusiness, agricultural management, farm management
• At least 3 years of experience in farm management and/or agribusiness
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business or economics discipline with 1 year experience in farming or agribusiness
The most competitive candidates will also have one or more of the following relevant qualifications and qualities:
• Small-scale farming and experience with agricultural value addition and post-harvest handling
• Expressed interest working with small-scale farmers and youth in various capacities including entrepreneurship training
• Expressed interest working in micro-finance and small business development
• Flexibility living in another culture and/or working in an unstructured environment
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Trainees will receive 120 hours of training in the local language used in their assigned community. Trainees must attain an Intermediate-Low rating on the Language Proficiency Index (LPI) before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Structured instruction and extended tutoring or other accommodations are in place to support each Trainee achieve the language proficiency needed for community integration and effective work.
Volunteers usually live in a rural or semi-urban community in accommodations provided by the host organization or a homestay. While housing seems modest by US standards, it is often provided at great expense to the host agency or community, given their limited means. Housing conditions vary according to organization resources, though it meets basic Peace Corps housing standards with some basic furnishings that may be supplemented with a modest settling-in allowance provided by Peace Corps. Most rural Volunteers are likely to have no running water and electricity, use a lantern or solar lamp for lighting and a stove for cooking. Outdoor bathing areas and pit latrines are likely in rural areas. Volunteers should come with modest expectations and a willingness to happily accept what your community has to offer.
Trainees stay with host families for four weeks during Pre-Service Training (PST). A private, lockable room will be provided within the host family accommodation. Trainees will, however, share common areas with the family. The homestay accommodation provides an opportunity for Volunteers to be familiar with cultural norms in Uganda. In addition, some Volunteers will also live with home-stay families during their two years of service at site.
Cell phone service is available across the country. Wi-Fi and internet is not common in rural areas and usually unreliable if available. Cyber cafes and internet connectivity are available within urban areas. USB modems and smart phones are available for purchase and can be used for internet access in some places. Mail and post generally take a long time, but Volunteers can readily communicate through smart phones. Volunteers are encouraged to bring a laptop which will enable them to complete assignments off-line and upload them at a later date. Please note that tablets and smart phones are not an effective alternative.
Volunteers could be a 2-3 hours’ drive from another Volunteer in some areas, while others are much closer to each other. The site placement process will enable staff to determine where Volunteers are best suited based on their skill set and the organization needs. Getting around will be by walking, riding a bicycle for a distance of about 10 kilometers (about 6 miles), or using local transportation. Public transportation is available near most communities and allows for transit to and from the nearest urban areas or trading centers, though it is likely to be crowded, uncomfortable, and unreliable. Volunteers are provided funds to buy a local bicycle. Many of the community members use this mode of transportation, too. Due to safety risks, Peace Corps Uganda prohibits the use of public motorcycle taxis by Volunteers.
Uganda is a very conservative culture. As outsiders, Volunteers are often heavily scrutinized. Living and working productively in Uganda means being able to adjust to different cultural norms, as that can deeply impact community integration and credibility. Ugandans are interested in visitors and are welcoming and open when they feel mutual respect and understanding.
Peace Corps Uganda provides support to a diverse group of Volunteers of various faiths, identities, and sexual orientations. It is important to note that Uganda has restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers need to be mindful of cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host country. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State's travel page for more information on Ugandan laws (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/country/uganda.html).
Uganda can be a challenging cultural and physical environment, but the majority of Volunteers are able to adjust and find great satisfaction in their work, build meaningful friendships with host country nationals, and feel rewarded by their service.
Serving in Uganda
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Uganda: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, health, and safety -- including health and crime statistics -- in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.
Peace Corps Uganda accepts couples. Your partner must qualify and apply for one of the following positions:
• Community Health Specialist
• Community Health Educator
• Early Childhood Literacy Teacher
Couples will live within the same host family and community during Pre-Service Training (PST), but can be separated for certain technical trainings throughout PST.
During service, couples can expect to periodically attend project-specific trainings, medical appointments, committee meetings, and other programming meetings separately as needed.
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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