Agriculture Sciences Promoter
The Agriculture project’s goal is for rural households to achieve sustainable agriculture-based livelihoods.
The project supports the future pipeline of small producers in Paraguay. Therefore, Volunteers are assigned to communities with agriculture technical high schools, called Bachillerato Técnico Agropecuario (BTA). The project is designed to have a three-Volunteer, six-year Peace Corps presence in agriculture in each of these communities through the assignment. Through six years of Volunteer presence and support in strengthening students’ learning and formation in agriculture, the idea is that more of the graduates of these schools work in agriculture or pursue further education related to agriculture after high school.
Volunteers, depending on the priorities and context of their work sites, may work in the following areas:
Co-facilitate classes in agriculture schools (grades 7-12) on topics such as gardens, field crops and soil recuperation; Work outside the classroom with students on the school garden and agroforestry; Work with farming families, supporting students and their families in applying sustainable agriculture techniques; Work alongside local government stakeholders to provide trainings and workshops for farming families.
In the second year of service, Volunteers will continue working at the school as well as expanding their work with farming families (about five families per Volunteer) and building extension skills with students outside of school.
They may work on small scale animal husbandry and post-harvest management, creating links with local leaders, and engaging support from local governments and authorities.
They may also work with counterparts to train youth (including recent graduates) in agricultural extension techniques at the school and with farming families to improve agricultural production and initiate a career in agricultural extension work.
Volunteers collaborate with counterparts in teaching nutrition and the preparation of nutritious meals.
In addition, they may provide support in teaching agroforestry, basic business skills (such as financial literacy), and farm planning and management.
Volunteers work 40 hours/week. Approximately 16 - 20 hours at the school, of which 8 – 10 hours will be in the classroom while the other hours will be with the students outside of the classroom in the school garden, with experimental plots and/or doing other activities. The remaining hours will be spent working with families and the community.
Peace Corps Paraguay is excited to welcome enthusiastic and resilient Volunteers who are dedicated to serving the people of Paraguay. The sector strategy for Agriculture is closely coordinated with the Ministry of Education.
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.
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
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
• Prior experience working with youth and adults in formal or non-formal educational settings to promote crop cultivation and/or bio-intensive gardening is strongly preferred
• At least one years of experience with gardening, farming and/or soil recuperation/conservation
• Strong interest in learning an indigenous language
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 Spanish coursework within the past 8 years
B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years
C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish
Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).
Competitive candidates will have conversational Spanish language skills. Paraguay is a bilingual country where both Spanish and Guaraní are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asunción (and other large urban areas), Spanish is the most common language. However, in rural areas where Agriculture Volunteers will be placed, Guaraní or “Jopara” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. You will therefore need to learn both languages in order to be able to communicate and be effective in your work. Pre-Service Training (PST) will include Spanish and Guaraní training. Trainees who start PST with limited Spanish language skills, may struggle to learn the two languages. It is important to maintain an open and positive attitude about language learning, as well as being willing to dedicate substantial time to learning and practicing both languages outside of formal language class during Pre-Service Training. Trainees will not be able to swear in as a Volunteer unless they meet benchmarks in both Spanish and Guarani. Guaraní is key to integration and ultimately your effectiveness as an Environment Volunteer. If perfecting or becoming fluent in Spanish is a main goal of Peace Corps service for you, Paraguay may not be the best fit.
• Communities range from rural (less than 1,000 habitants) to larger semi-urban areas (7,000-12,000 habitants).
• In some communities electricity is unreliable (works some days and doesn't work other days).
• Volunteers may have limited cell phone coverage and/or internet access. Be prepared to not have internet access in the community.
• Following 11.5 weeks of Pre-Service Training where all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers will live with a host-family in their community for at least another two months.
• Conditions in rural areas can be very basic (i.e. you may have to use a latrine; water is not treated)
• Houses may be very rustic, and sometimes Volunteer housing does not have running water and depends on well-water.
• Agriculture Volunteers walk and/or bike up to five miles a day as well as work in the fields under hot and humid conditions (often over 90 degrees and 70% humidity).
• Working situations range from outdoor manual labor to co-facilitating in front of a classroom.
• Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some communities will require up to a 10k (6 mile) walk or bike ride to the closest bus station or main road where public transportation picks up passengers. Depending on the public health situation in the host-country, Volunteers may be prohibited from using public transportation, or may be instructed to only use public transportation in case of an emergency. Peace Corps staff will identify two private transportation options in each community and Volunteers will be reimbursed for the use of private transportation when it is required by Peace Corps.
• The Paraguayan diet is heavily based on meat; therefore, it can be challenging for vegetarians. The diet is also very high in carbohydrates - many meals involve more than one starch at a time, for example manioc and pasta or manioc and rice. Manioc and meat are eaten at least once a day almost every day. Fruits are available by season. Most communities have access to tomatoes, onions and green peppers; but have limited or no access to other vegetables. Many Volunteers have gardens in order to increase access to vegetables. Many Volunteers do not have access to a supermarket near their community. Please be prepared to have a routine diet that does not depend on access to a supermarket.
Serving in Paraguay
Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: 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.
Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. Your partner must qualify and apply for:
Agricultural Sciences Promoter
The Peace Corps works to foster safe and productive assignments for same-sex couples, and same-sex couples are not placed in countries where homosexual acts are criminalized. Because of this, same-sex couple placements are more limited than heterosexual couple placements. During the application process Recruiters and Placement Officers work closely with same-sex couple applicants to understand current placement opportunities. For more information please visit: https://www.peacecorps.gov/faqs/lgbtq/.
Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.
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