Agriculture Extension Specialist

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agents work to improve food security in rural areas by:
• Promoting new and improved techniques for tree nurseries and tree planting, and helping establish woodlots and orchards
• Working alongside community farmers, mainly women's groups, or with village development committees, to extend new and improved gardening and vegetable production techniques
• Promoting and training farmers in bee keeping
• Promoting and training farmers in nutrition and nutrition sensitive agriculture

The Gambia has a short rainy season (3-4 months) and a long dry season. Most agricultural activities are done during the short rainy season; therefore, to enhance the productive capacity of community farmers, the project plan focuses on establishing and improving dry season vegetable gardens and tree nurseries.
Most farmers are highly skilled in field crop production, but may have less experience with vegetable gardening and tree nurseries, leaving an opportunity for Volunteers to have a real impact in helping farmers grow better quality vegetables, fruits, and other trees in a sustainable manner.
Volunteers also have the opportunity help fight malnutrition in the community by helping with nutrition education.

The Gambia is one of the Peace Corps countries participating in Let Girls Learn, an important initiative promoting gender awareness and girls’ education and empowerment. You will receive in-depth training on incorporating methods of gender analysis into community assessment and development efforts. During your service you will find culturally appropriate ways to incorporate gender awareness and the promotion of youth- especially girls- into your work. As part of the initiative, you will also report on these efforts and their impact.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Agronomy, Horticulture, or other related fields

OR

• At least 3 years full-time farm experience

Desired Skills

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Please take a moment to explore the Language Comments section below to find out more on how local language(s) will be utilized during service.

Additional Language Information

Volunteers are expected to learn the predominant local language of the village to which they will be assigned. Instruction in a local language will be provided during Pre-Service Training. Most of the people that Volunteers will work with may not speak English, so it is extremely important to understand and be able to communicate in the local language.

Living Conditions

Most Volunteers are assigned to remote, rural communities with infrequent reliable transportation and without electricity. You will live in simple, private quarters with a host family for your entire service. You will have a private pit latrine, and will likely need to fetch water from the village water source, up to 300 yards away. You may need to walk or bike up to 1.5 miles to access public transportation and may cycle up to 6 miles to a larger town for shopping.

A few internet cafes exist in some larger towns, but access is slow, patchy and dependent on unreliable electricity. There is access at the Peace Corps office near the capital, and in the two transit houses, on either side of the country. Communications between staff and Volunteers, as well as among Volunteers, is mainly by phone and text (you will receive a cell phone on arrival). This generally works very well, despite a few network issues.

Many vegetarians have managed to maintain a healthy diet here. However, as the supply and range of vegetables in the country is limited, this can present challenges and requires some flexibility. It is very difficult for Volunteers to persist with a vegan diet through their service.

The Gambia is a small country. Contact between staff and Volunteers is high and this is well appreciated by the Volunteer community.

The Gambia has some restrictive laws targeting certain sexual acts, even those that are consensual and in private. Volunteers will need to be mindful of both cultural norms and country-specific laws, and use their best judgment and Peace Corps training, to determine how to approach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities and host country at large. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify support mechanisms available for incoming and serving Volunteers. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances section of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in The Gambia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical Considerations in The Gambia

  • The Gambia may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; cardiology; dermatology; gastroenterology; some types of gynecologic support; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; seizure disorder; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten and peanuts
  • After arrival in The Gambia, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.


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