Agriculture Extension Volunteer

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Peace Corps domestically and internationally.

The information provided for each assignment is subject to change, including the tentative departure date.

Project Description

The Peace Corps Cameroon Agriculture Program supports the government’s efforts to build and strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers and in-school youths in the practice of sustainable integrated farming. The project goal is to ensure the food, nutrition, and income security of rural households.

Smallholders account for more than two-thirds of national food production using simple techniques and less than two hectares. Major challenges they face include poor soils and limited land; dependence on uncertain rains; and lack of access to farming inputs (e.g. improved seeds, fertilizer, pesticide, improved animal breeds), markets, and improved technologies.

As a result of these challenges, food insecurity has risen to an estimated 16% of households nationwide, with rural areas and children being most affected.

The country’s agricultural policy seeks to ensure national food security with the main objective of improving productivity and competitiveness of different crop and animal sectors. Some of the strategic agro-pastoral sectors include: cassava, corn, plantain, chickens, pigs, and bees.

The Peace Corps Agriculture Program targets smallholder farmers where Volunteers employ a system approach based on conservation agricultural practices. These include: the use of good quality seeds of high yielding adapted varieties, integrated pest management, plant nutrition, efficient water management, as well as the integration of crops, trees and small livestock. The project is focused on enhancing integrated agricultural production of rural smallholder farmers in order to improve their food production, nutrition, and income.

Agriculture Extension Volunteers work to build capacity among farmers and in-school youths through innovative extension approaches and the use of field-based farmer training events. Their main tasks include empowering farmers with skills in farm planning, supporting new and low cost adapted agricultural technology transfer, and building capacity in designing and managing small farm business projects.

Examples of hands-on field activities could include:

• Engaging farmers and in-school youths in conducting farm assessment and developing farm plans.
• Conducting field trials and demonstrations with farmers related to crop rotation, erosion control, cover crops, seed production, new or improved crop varieties, and integrated pest management.
• Working with local farmers who are organizing themselves into cooperatives in order to increase their production, lower production cost, and gain higher market prices for their produce.
• Training local people to create fruit tree nurseries and out plant into farmlands.
• Motivating farmers to experiment with new/improved crop varieties and produce their own seeds.
• Improving small livestock housing systems and small animal health care.
• Working with families and groups on methods to decrease post-harvest losses due to insects, rodents, or spoilage.
• Working with in-school youths to run school gardens.
• Working with women of reproductive age (WRA) and/or key household decision makers to increase the dietary diversity of households.

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.

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
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following:

• Strong passion for tropical agriculture and working with rural small-scale farmers and in-school youths
• Professional experience working on a small farm that involves vegetable gardening, tree/crop cultivation and/or small livestock rearing
• Ability to work with and motivate illiterate farmers, using visual aids in trainings
• Strong facilitation and training skills
• Flexibility and willingness to adapt to a new culture, learn new knowledge, skills, and life style
• Experience in small project design and management

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, Forestry, Animal Science, Botany, Biology, Zoology, Nutrition, Chemistry or other Life Science related fields.

• Associate degree in Agronomy, Agribusiness, Agricultural Economics, Horticulture, or other related Biological Sciences.

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).

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 Pre-Service Training, which is the Intermediate-High competency level.

For easy integration and a successful service, you are also expected to learn the local language spoken in your community. Volunteers will receive 120 hours of language training including French and possibly a local language.

Volunteers are provided with additional opportunities to continue improving their French speaking as they go to their community placement. It is recommended that invitees begin intensive French learning in the U.S. before departing for Cameroon.

Living Conditions

Cameroon is a wonderfully diverse and complex country. It is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to the variety of ethnic groups, religions, and cultures. Geographically diverse, Cameroon is home to tropical, equatorial, and semi-arid climates. The country is officially bilingual with French and English as official languages. Two of its ten regions are predominantly English-speaking, while the other eight are predominantly French-speaking. More than 250 additional local languages are spoken throughout the country.

Volunteer assignments are concentrated in six of the French-speaking regions that will include: West, Adamawa, Centre, East, Littoral, and South. As a result of current political unrest and security issues, Volunteer placements and travel are restricted in the English-speaking regions (Northwest and Southwest) as well as the Northern regions (North and Far North).

Since 1962, Peace Corps has enjoyed a long history in Cameroon. Living conditions in the country vary greatly from one Volunteer community to another. Volunteer communities range in population size from a few hundred to over ten thousand inhabitants. Volunteers must be flexible, resilient, and willing to live in very modest conditions without electricity or running water, and with limited access to the internet and telephone coverage. Housing in each site is typically like those of the local inhabitants of the community. Volunteers are provided with a water filter, a mosquito net, and a medical kit. In typical rural communities, houses are built with cement blocks or mud, and roofed with zinc, aluminum sheeting, or thatch. Flush toilets are a rarity, most sites have outdoor latrines. Kerosene lamps are used for lighting, and drinking water is collected from nearby streams, bore holes, or wells. Some Volunteers may be placed in family concessions with the Volunteer having their own room.

Volunteers receive a settling-in allowance to purchase basic items that are needed to set up their house. In most communities where Volunteers are posted, there are small stores where you can buy very basic household items and food supplements for cooking. Locally cultivated staple foodstuffs are also available. The most common are cassava, plantain, cocoyam, sweet potato, beans, peanuts and some others that vary depending on the region.

Transportation to and from your site may be challenging at times due to the bad state of roads, especially during the rainy season. Motorbikes and “bush taxis” are the most common means of transportation in most communities. Peace Corps Cameroon is able to provide each Volunteer with a bicycle upon request.

Cameroon has some restrictive laws that target certain sexual acts. Volunteers will 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 countries. Staff and currently serving Volunteers will address this topic during pre-service training, and identify some potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees. Please refer to the Local Laws and Special Circumstances of the U.S. Department of State’s travel page for more information.

Volunteers are strongly encouraged to bring a laptop, which increases options for internet access and enables them to complete required assignments off-line and upload them at a later date. While Volunteers may also complete the assignments through local internet cafes or other access points, having a laptop will facilitate such tasks and can make participation in training much easier. Please note that tablets and smart phones are not an effective alternative.

Serving in Cameroon

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Cameroon: 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.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please 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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