Climate-Smart Agriculture Promoter

Project Description

The Agriculture Project’s goal is for rural households to achieve sustainable agriculture-based livelihoods.
Volunteers are assigned to communities with agriculture technical high schools. Our work contributes to the future pipeline of small-scale producers in Paraguay. Over the course of their two years of service, Climate-Smart Agriculture Promotors:
• Co-facilitate classes in agricultural vocational middle/high schools (grades 7-12) on topics such as gardens, field crops and soil conservation;
• Work outside the classroom with students on the school garden and agroforestry,
• Work with farm families, supporting students and their families in applying sustainable agriculture techniques;
• Work alongside local government stakeholders to provide trainings and workshops for farm families;
• Accompany student to develop their agricultural extension skills outside of school;
• Small scale animal husbandry and post-harvest management, creating links with local leaders, and engaging support from local governments and authorities.
• 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.
• Work 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 are expected to be at their assigned school for at least 20 hours/week, 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. Other work hours will be spent working with families and the community.

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.

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 desired skills:

• Experience working with youth, especially high school students
• Experience with gardening, farming, farm management, agribusiness, and/or animal husbandry
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture Economics or a degree combining agriculture and management, including agribusiness, agricultural management, farm management.

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business or economics discipline with experience in farming or agribusiness.
• Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Agronomy, Horticulture, or other related fields.

Required Language Skills

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

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 most semi-rural to rural areas where Agriculture Volunteers will be placed, Guaraní or “Jopará” (a mixture of Guaraní and Spanish) is the most common way to communicate. Therefore, Trainees/Volunteers need to learn/know both languages to communicate effectively. Pre-Service Training will include Spanish and Guaraní training. 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 Agriculture 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.

Living Conditions

Communities:
• 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.

Housing:
• 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.

Work:
• 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.

Transportation:
• 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.

Food:
• 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 Information

Paraguay cannot accommodate cross-sector couples. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for: Climate-Smart Agriculture Promotor.
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.
In the context of an opposite-sex couple working in agriculture in a Paraguayan community, local cultural norms may represent initial challenges to both members of the couple in terms of working with the opposite sex. During PST there will be multiple training sessions about culturally appropriate strategies for success as individuals and as a couple.
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/.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the medical clearance process.

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