Agriculture Extension Volunteer
Nepal is a beautiful country with warm and friendly people, rich ethnic and geographic diversity, and a deep-rooted culture that draws on thousands of years of tradition. Since Peace Corps first arrived to Nepal in 1962, Peace Corps Volunteers have demonstrated an impressive record of achievement, and Peace Corps service is more relevant than ever for helping communities recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the request of the Government of Nepal, Peace Corps Nepal launched its Food Security Project in 2012 bringing Volunteers to Nepal to improve the food and nutrition security of rural Nepalese families, including smallholder farming households with women of reproductive age. The project focuses on nutrition-sensitive activities ranging from fruit tree promotion to mushroom farming, beekeeping, high value low volume crop cultivation, and practices in accessing, cooking and consuming nutritious foods that are locally available. The project aims to increase the capacity of leader farmers to provide sustainable extension services in and around their rural communities and to strengthen their ability to implement agriculture based income generation activities.
Projects will promote gender equity and will help marginalized community members to mobilize their strengths to further positive food security outcomes. Volunteers will be a catalyst on a wide range of activities including, but not limited to:
• Training smallholder farming families on fruit and nut tree cultivation and guiding them to establish small scale and diversified fruit tree orchards.
Coaching smallholder farming families to cultivate high value low volume crops such as ginger, turmeric, and mushrooms.
Training smallholder farming families on beekeeping and guiding them to establish improved beehives.
Conducting one-on-one training for women of reproductive age and/or key household decision makers on how to cook recipes that incorporate a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Providing one-on-one teaching to leader farmers so they can apply agriculture-based basic business skills to the extension resources and support they make available for the local community.
While there is strong potential for Volunteers to contribute to improving the food security situation of rural community people, working in rural communities can present certain challenges. For example, Nepali government supervisors assigned to work with Volunteers are located in municipal offices outside of a Volunteer’s immediate community, and this can prevent supervisors from regularly meeting with Volunteers. To remain effective, Volunteers must demonstrate a high degree of motivation, commitment, and initiative to properly engage with relevant community stakeholders to develop and implement work plans.
COVID-19 Volunteer Activities
In the past year, the world has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 Science degree in Agronomy, Horticulture, Nutrition, or other related fields
•A Bachelors degree with at least 3 years’ full-time farm experience
• Experience with fruit tree or mushroom cultivation; experience bee keeping or agriculture-based income generation
• Training and experience in organic farming, personal gardening, or greenhouses;
• Experience with after-school programs, clubs, or camps related to behavior change education.
Required Language Skills
There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.
Volunteers use English as the teaching language during class. However, Volunteers will be interacting with teachers, principals, school management committee members, and their communities in Nepali. With the goal towards increasing community support for English education, Volunteers will regularly use Nepali language to engage with families of students, local associations, and government officials to keep stakeholders involved and informed about the work and progress of Peace Corps. By the end of Pre-Service Training, Volunteers are expected to attain a level of Nepali language that will allow them to effectively integrate into the community.
All Volunteers live with a host family throughout the entire duration of their service. Volunteers share meals with their host family and have the option to learn and cook for themselves. While Volunteers have their own room, privacy is limited so individuals should prepare for communal-style living. Homes in Nepal are generally made of bricks, mud or cement and have passed minimum earthquake-safe inspections conducted by the Peace Corps staff.
Most Nepalis eat rice, flat breads and legumes as their staples. However, corn, potatoes, other tubers seasonal fruits and vegetables are consumed when available. Bread and noodles are available in most towns. Imported goods are available in the cities but are expensive. Meat is not often consumed and maintaining a vegetarian diet would feasible.
Volunteers usually walk several miles every day on hilly terrain to work with their communities. Travel may take up to 1 hour. While Volunteers are placed in separate communities across several districts, proximity to the nearest Volunteer is normally within a day’s walk or a 3 hour jeep ride. Considering Volunteers serve in the mid-hills region of Nepal, bicycle travel is usually the exception rather than the norm.
Nepal has 4 seasons. The average temperature ranges from 41-68 degrees in winter to 73-95 degrees Fahrenheit during the hot season. June-September is the monsoon season when it rains almost every day. There are variations between districts and Volunteers should be prepared to live in hot and cold weather. There is no central air or heat in Nepali homes.
While Volunteers can charge their electronic devices in their homes, households generally limit their use of electronics due to cost and availability of electricity. Some communities have schools, government offices and other locations that offer Wi-Fi. Peace Corps Nepal provides Volunteers with a basic smartphone and data package and some may choose to purchase additional internet data as they see fit. Running water and hot showers are rare and most households use a latrine-style toilet located outside of the house.
Volunteers teach English in government schools to students in grades 4-8. Volunteers teach 4-5 individual classes per day (Sunday-Friday) and can use time within and outside of the school calendar to support co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. The school year begins in April and Volunteers are permitted to take breaks when school is not in session. In addition to occasional public holidays, longer school breaks generally include about 30 days in June/July, 15 days in October/November and 15 days in April.
Values and mores concerning sexual orientation and gender identity may be different from those in the US. Volunteers will need to be mindful of cultural norms and use their judgement to determine the best way to approach sexual orientation and gender identity in their communities. Staff will address this topic during Pre-Service Training and identify support mechanisms for trainees.
Volunteers can expect challenges and rich opportunities in their cultural exchanges during Peace Corps service. Many Nepalis are unaware of American diversity and are often curious about the cultures of Volunteers from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Stereotypes exist and Volunteers of an American racial or ethnic minority, have visible disabilities, or different spiritual beliefs from the majority of their country of service may experience a high degree of curiosity, unwanted attention, or even discrimination from host country nationals. These Volunteers may not be treated with the same level of respect as other Volunteers and be told that they are not “real Americans.” Many Volunteers have turned these encounters into learning experiences, sharing American values and deepening community members’ understanding of Americans.
For safety and security reasons, Peace Corps Nepal has restrictions on extreme sports and trekking routes Volunteers can use.
Serving in Nepal
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Nepal: 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 Nepal can accommodate couples where both people serve in the same sector. Peace Corps Nepal cannot accept cross sector couples where one serves in English Education and the other serves in Food Security. Couples live together throughout their service. This includes living with a homestay family during the 11-week Pre-Service Training, as well as in their permanent community for the 2 years of service. Couples will be assigned to different schools in the same location.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
Does this sound like the position for you?
Get started on your journey.