Agriculture Extension Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

In line with the Cameroonian Government’s current priority to promote smallholder and family farming, the Agriculture Project focuses on ‘Smallholder Integrated Farming System’ known as SIFS. This Project targets rural-poor smallholder farmers and aims at promoting integrated farming systems in which staple food crops (cassava, corn, potatoes, plantain, etc.), vegetable gardens, trees (fruits & leguminous) and small animal husbandry (pigs, fish, chicken and/or bees) are intermixed on the same piece of land in a harmonized and symbiotic way where each component supports and benefits from another, thereby improve the productivity of the whole system.

As a Agriculture Extension Volunteer, your experience, knowledge and skills in the following areas will be very advantageous for your service.
• tropical crop production and management
• tree/crop pest and disease management
• vegetable crops and tree nursery management
• tree planting & management

Small animal husbandry such as poultry housing & management, swine health care and management as well as inland fish farming will also be a plus in accomplishing the goals of the Agriculture project. These goals are to increase the capacity of smallholder farmers to farm profitably and to increase and diversify smallholders’ agricultural production. Volunteers accomplish this work by training farmers to integrate & optimize the production of field crops, vegetable crops and small animal husbandry (poultry, swine, fish & bees).

You will accomplish these goals through three key areas of intervention:

1. Farm Planning. Using participatory tools to analyze smallholder farming systems and use the information to develop farm management plans.

2. Technology Transfer. Train or facilitate the training of individuals or groups of adult farmers in appropriate, climate-smart, small-scale farming techniques or practices, including basic farm business practices.

3. Project Development/Implementation/Evaluation. Assist targeted farmers or farmer groups to identify, plan, implement, and evaluate new or improved farming activities (by integrating vegetable gardening, field crops, small animal husbandry and/or perennial trees) that increase efficiencies in the farming system, as well as, increasing food production and farm income.

Tasks within your assignment as an Agriculture Extension Volunteer vary depending on your assigned site. You will work closely with local agriculture field technicians or counterparts to share and co-transfer skills and knowledge to your community farmers. Your role is that of a trainer, co-planner, and facilitator or change agent of the development process rather than that of a “doer.”

Agriculture Extension Volunteer tasks are compiled into four main activities.
1. Conduct a farming systems assessment using appropriate participatory rural appraisal (PRA) tools.
2. Conduct an assessment of current farm business practices.
3. Employ basic farm business best practices (e.g., general record keeping, profit calculation (input vs output), costing and pricing, budgeting and financial planning).
4. Evaluate results/make an economic analysis of overall farm productivity and profitability.

Cameroon is a country where agricultural activity is the backbone of society and economy, with 46% of the population living in rural areas (World Bank, 2016); among which women occupy the greatest portion (65%) of those involved in farming. You will receive training on equity challenges relating to gender and you will have the opportunity to implement gender-related activities that are contextually appropriate. During your service, you will look for ways to work with community members to promote gender-equitable norms.

Required Skills

Qualified candidates will have an expressed interest in working in agriculture and one or more of the following criteria:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field

OR

• 1 year experience in large-scale commercial or family-run business including vegetable gardening, nursery work/management, tree planting, tree care, or small livestock (production)

Desired Skills

Most successful candidates will have the following relevant qualifications and qualities:

• A minimum of 3 months experience in large-scale commercial or family-run business including vegetable gardening, nursery work/management, tree planting, tree care, urban forestry, livestock care/management, fish (fresh or marine) cultivation/production

• Familiarity with agriculture and farm work focusing vegetable gardening, animal husbandry, tress, crop production, and/or integrated agriculture systems

• Desire to work with communities to meet their agro-pastoral needs

• Willingness to work in a team environment as well as be a dedicated self-starter

• Strong communication and interpersonal skills

• Flexibility and willingness to learn new knowledge, skills and attitudes

• Experience in project and/or farm planning is an added advantage

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position. A. Completed 4 years of high school coursework within the past 8 years in a Romance language B. Completed a minimum of 2 semesters of college level coursework within the past 6 years in a Romance language C. Native/Fluent Romance language speaker Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commitment to self‐study and a subsequent placement test (score of 50 on the French College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

Additional Language Information

Candidates should have either a willingness to take a French course or commitment to self‐study.

French is necessary to travel safely and to interact effectively in Cameroon. Due to this, all Volunteers will have to attain a functional French level by the end of training. It is expected that all Volunteers learn a second language (in addition to French) that is widely used in the local community. It is highly recommended that invitees take an intensive French course before departing USA. While Cameroon has two official languages: French and English, most Volunteers will use an additional local language while at site. While language is an important factor in selecting the Volunteer’s site, many other factors come into consideration. Volunteers are expected to be flexible for his/her assignment and give his/her best in order to promote good health practices in Cameroon.

Living Conditions

Cameroon is a wonderful and complex country. It is referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to the variety of ethnic groups, religions, and its geographic diversity. It is also a country in which two of ten regions have English as their official language, and the other eight have French.

Peace Corps/Cameroon has enjoyed uninterrupted service since 1962. Living conditions in Cameroon vary greatly from Volunteer community to Volunteer community. We ask Volunteers to be flexible, resilient and willing to live in very modest conditions without electricity, running water, or connection to internet.

Cameroon has restrictive laws that target same-sex sexual acts, which are punishable by imprisonment. Persons do not identify themselves as LGBTQ due to severe societal stigma. Volunteers will need to be mindful of these cultural norms and Cameroon-specific laws which means that LGBTQ Volunteers cannot serve openly. Peace Corps staff and currently serving Volunteers will identify support mechanisms for incoming trainees, provide support to a diverse group of Volunteers, including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Transgender (LGBT) individuals. LGBT Volunteers serve successfully in Cameroon. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Job location - You will work in small rural village with no electricity, limited access to or an inconsistent supply of electricity and water. At your assigned site you will use pidgin English, French, or a local language.

Working Hours - A typical farming day starts early in the morning (6:00 am and may extend to late afternoon (4:00 pm) depending on the farm location, farming season and weather. Your working environment will be field-based in a rural location which is different from an office setting.

Cultural Attitudes and Customs in the Workplace - Your cultural and linguistic integration is critically important for your success as a volunteer. Accordingly, you will need to eat local food, speak local language(s), and fully participate in ceremonies such as funerals and weddings.

Dress Code - You will quickly observe that dress is very important to Cameroonians. As a farm planner, coordinator and facilitator, you will have to be mindful about the way you dress and your dress code will vary depending on the occasion. For instance, during farm visits, you can wear pants/jeans, a long sleeves shirt, and rain boots. In official and other ceremonies, you need to dress in business casual style or in locally tailored outfits.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cameroon: 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 Cameroon

  • Cameroon may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; insulin-dependent diabetes; mammography; some types of gynecologic support; seizure disorder; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten, lactose, peanuts and shellfish.
  • After arrival in Cameroon, 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 Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.


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