Agriculture Extension Volunteer

Project Description

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

Agriculture Volunteers are principally engaged in strengthening the technical capacity of smallholder farmers and in-school youth in the practice of sustainable integrated farming. They work alongside farmers and youth to improve their agricultural production, income and nutrition. Volunteers are assigned to farmers’ organizations located in villages or small towns ranging from 500 to 3,000 inhabitants. They also work with nearby schools promoting school gardening. Agriculture Extension Volunteers undertake many tasks, including:
• Provide guidance in the establishment and management of demonstration gardens or small farms of at least 500 square meters for the training and dissemination of agricultural technologies in their communities
• Train smallholder farmers and in-school youth on improved crop cultivation practices including: bed construction, minimum tillage, crop rotation, usage of improved crop seeds, intercropping, appropriate spacing, proper use of organic and inorganic fertilizers and pesticides.
• Train smallholder farmers on improved small animal husbandry practices for chicken rearing, beekeeping, and fresh water fishing production
• Train smallholder farmers in the creation of indigenous fruit tree nurseries and out plant into farmlands.
• Promote the cultivation of nutrition crops including orange flesh sweet potato, biofortified cassava, soy, corn and indigenous vegetables
• Organize and deliver lessons on basic business skills including business cost, ledger transactions, profit calculation, money and stock management
• Organize and deliver nutrition lessons paired with cooking demonstrations, using locally available and affordable foods, including crop and small livestock produce.

Agriculture Extension Volunteers spends a substantial amount of time in the field with their counterpart working directly with farmers. In the early stages of the assignment they may work directly with their counterpart one or more days a week at their office and in the field. Later in service, they will spend the majority of their time in the field with farming families. This is a hands-on assignment where Volunteers will be working directly with at least five farming families to support them in establishing and/or improving diverse farm production, adopt new or improve small animal husbandry practices and increase consumption of more diverse and nutritious food.

Agriculture Volunteers collaborate with Education and Health Volunteers in implementing school gardens and HIV and malaria prevention activities, respectively.

To facilitate a successful service, Peace Corps has adapted tools to help Volunteers perform a needs assessment in a culturally appropriate way that will provide information about the needs of the community in relation to program goal and objectives. Two of the most important key success factors are spending as much time as possible in your community to help you develop and maintain meaningful relations with community members and your ability to communicate in the local language.
During Pre-Service Training (PST), Volunteers will participate in 11 weeks of training on technical, cross-cultural, language, medical and safety and security aspects within the rural Cameroonian context. Peace Corps staff will measure your achievement to determine if you have successfully achieved competencies before swearing-in as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

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.

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
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired Skills

The most competitive candidates will have the following relevant qualifications and qualities:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture, Forestry, Animal Science, Botany,
Biology, Zoology, Nutrition, Chemistry or other Life Science related fields.

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

• A high level of comfort working outdoors, a passion for tropical agriculture and working with rural small-scale farmers and in-school youth

• 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 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 lifestyle

• Experience in small project design and management

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Experience with or knowledge of a Romance language is preferred but not required.

Living Conditions

Cameroon is often referred to as “Africa in miniature” due to its great cultural, linguistic and geographic diversity. About 250 ethnic groups speak 200+ indigenous languages. Volunteer assignments are concentrated in French-speaking regions; in 2023, Volunteers will be based in 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 West and the Northern regions (North and Far North).
Since 1962, Peace Corps has worked collaboratively with Cameroon to promote peace and friendship. Host communities range in population from about 300-40,000 inhabitants. Volunteers must be flexible, resilient, and willing to live in modest conditions without electricity or running water, and with limited access to the internet and cell phone coverage. Housing in each site is normally similar to that of other community members, built with cement blocks or mud and roofed with tin. Most toilets are outdoor latrines. Kerosene lamps are used for lighting, and drinking water is collected from faucets, bore holes or wells. Some Volunteers may be placed in family compounds, with the Volunteer having their own room. Volunteers receive medical supplies plus a “settling-in” allowance to set up their houses. In most communities, there are small stores and markets where you can buy basic household items, food staples and vegetables and fruits. Transportation to and from your site may be challenging at times, especially during the rainy season. Motorbikes and “bush taxis” are the most common means of transportation in most communities.
Volunteers in Cameroon may face challenges based on their gender, race, sexual orientation or other traits. Many Cameroonian women have very traditional roles. As a result, North American women may not be able to exercise the freedoms to which they are accustomed. It is common for women to receive stares, comments, and requests for dates or sex. Female Volunteers receive cultural education and skill building in order to develop strategies to handle these situations (as do male Volunteers who do not conform to the “macho” image expected of them).
Because of limited exposure to the diversity of the U.S., some Cameroonians may expect all U.S. citizens to be white. For Volunteers, the range of responses to their skin color may vary greatly: from being mistaken for a host country national to being questioned about their citizenship. These encounters can be turned into teachable moments for the Volunteer and the host country national.
Many countries have restrictive cultures with regard to sexual orientation and non-conforming gender identities. LGBTQ Volunteers are welcomed within Peace Corps Cameroon, and many have served here successfully. It is important, however, that applicants review State Department cautions for LGBTQ travelers and be aware that culturally, LGBTQI+ individuals are often not accepted by Cameroonian communities. Due to safety concerns, LGBTQI+ Volunteers are advised not to serve openly in this country. We recognize the challenges that having to withhold aspects of one’s identity may cause for Volunteers; thus we are committed as Peace Corps staff to do our best to support all Volunteers.
All Volunteers should be mindful of the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in the Peace Corps context. You will receive training on intercultural competence, diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility during your Peace Corps training, and encouraged to be an ally to your fellow Volunteers.

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 medical clearance process.

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