Community Agriculture Promoter

Before You Apply

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Project Description

The goal of this project is for rural households to achieve sustainable agriculture-based livelihoods.

The project supports creating the future pipeline of small producers in Paraguay. Volunteers in the Agriculture (AG) sector in Paraguay are assigned to high schools focused on agriculture, called Bachillerato Tecnico Agropecuario (BTA). The project has a 6-year Peace Corps presence in AG in each of these communities - 3 generations of Volunteers, each serving for two years. The idea is that through Volunteer support in strengthening students’ learning and formation in agriculture, that more of the graduates of these schools work in agriculture or pursue further education related to agriculture after high school. Each generation has specific objectives for working with students and their farming families. Volunteers departing in the fall of 2020 are Generation 2; Volunteers in this cohort will be following-up a Generation 1 Volunteer in their community. These communities are the departments (or states) of: Caaguazu, Cordillera, San Pedro, Central, Guaira, Itapua, Misiones and Paraguari.

Generation 1: Crop Cultivation
AG Volunteers co-facilitate classes in agricultural production (gardens, field crops and soil recuperation) with counterparts at schools (grades 7-12). They also work with families on agricultural production.

Generation 2: Small Scale Animal Husbandry (including beekeeping and fish farming)
AG Volunteers co-facilitate classes in animal husbandry, including beekeeping and fish farming, with counterparts at schools (grades 7-12). With counterparts they will also train grades 7-8 on agricultural production and soil recuperation, including bio-intensive gardens and agroforestry. They will also work with previously identified families from Generation 1; as well as identify new families with whom to apply techniques and practices.

Generation 3: Post-Harvest Management and Commercialization
AG Volunteers with counterparts will co-facilitate classes in post-harvest management, business skills, value chains and income-generation at schools (grades 7-12). AG Volunteers will coach recent graduates to train grades 7-8 on concepts covered by previous generations. They will also work with previously identified and new families on agricultural production, animal husbandry, post-harvest management and commercialization.

All three generations of volunteers will work with counterparts to train youth in agricultural extension techniques with families to improve agricultural practices and incorporate the scientific method and critical thinking into their teaching methodology. Volunteers will also work with counterparts in teaching nutrition and the preparation of nutritious meals. Volunteers may also provide support in teaching agroforestry, basic business skills/financial literacy) and farm planning.

Volunteers will work with grades 7-12. AG Volunteers work 16 - 20 hours/week at the school, of which 8 – 10 hours are in the classroom while the other hours at the school will be with the students outside of the classroom in the school garden, with experimental plots and/or doing other activities. Volunteers will also work with 3-6 farming families on small scale animal husbandry and the other topics. Small scale[1] animal husbandry includes: poultry, pigs, sheep, goats, cuniculture, beekeeping, fish and bovine production. Volunteers also work with recent high school graduates to support activities both in the school and with farming families as an initiation into a career of agricultural extension work. The principle objective of the sector is to assist students, recent graduates and farming families in understanding and implementing sustainable food production for improved nutrition and income generation – promoting sustainable livelihoods. AG Volunteers are expected to work with both schools and families. In some sites, Volunteers will also work with extension agents and/or organized farming committees. AG Volunteers in each generation are trained together under one assignment description, meaning they will work on the same project framework and its related activities in their communities.

PC/Paraguay is excited to welcome enthusiastic and resilient AG Volunteers who are dedicated to serving the people of Paraguay. The sector strategy is new; chosen Volunteers are expected to show understanding and flexibility. Please keep this in mind while deciding if this is the project for you.

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

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Animal Science, Agronomy, or other related fields
• Prior experience working with youth and/or adults in formal or non-formal educational settings on topics related to farming and/or animal husbandry (mostly chickens, pigs, and cows, but also could be beekeeping, goats, sheep, rabbits and/or fish farming)
• At least one year of classroom teaching experience
• Prior experience working on a farm
• Strong interest to learn an indigenous language highly desirable
• At least one year of experience working in a rural area under challenging conditions
• At least one year of experience serving others
• Demonstrated flexibility in work assignments
• Demonstrated ability to work effectively with teachers, farmers, and/or youth groups
• At least one life experience as the ‘new person’ moving into a community and successfully building positive relationships with others
• Experience working with young people on the scientific method
• Conversational Spanish skills

In addition, Peace Corps would welcome candidates with one or more of the following degrees to apply:

• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education with concentration in any science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with secondary certification in science
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in General Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Engineering
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any physical science or any biological science or equivalent
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any discipline with a minor or equivalent (15 semester/22 quarter hours) in Biology, Chemistry, or Physics

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 nation where both Spanish and Guarani are official national languages. In order to communicate in the capital city of Asuncion (and other large urban areas), Spanish is the most common language. However, in rural areas where Agriculture Volunteers will be placed, Guarani or “Jopara” (a mixture of Guarani 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 will include Spanish and Guarani training.

Trainees who enter training with no Spanish language skills, will likely struggle to learn the two languages (and this can be a source of frustration) unless the trainee has an open and positive attitude about language learning, is a quick language learner, and dedicates a substantial amount of time outside of class to studying and practicing language.

Trainees will not be able to swear in as a Volunteer unless he/she meets both language benchmarks. Additionally, during training, trainees will be taught a basic competence in Spanish, but the focus of language training will be in Guarani.

Living Conditions

• Agriculture Volunteers often walk and/or bike up to five miles a day as well as work in fields under hot and humid conditions (often over 95 degrees and 70% humidity).
• Communities range from rural (less than 1,000 habitants) to larger semi-urban areas (7,000-12,000 habitants).
• Conditions in rural areas can be very basic- i.e. you may have to use a latrine; water is not treated, etc.
• Houses and family living situations may be very rustic, and sometimes Volunteer housing does not have running water and depends on wells which may be shared with neighbors.
• Working situations range from outdoor manual labor to co-facilitating in front of a classroom.
• Volunteers may have limited cell phone coverage and/or internet access. Be prepared to not have internet access in the community.
• Most communities are accessible by public transportation, but some sites will require up to a 10k (~6 miles) walk or bike ride to reach them.
• In some communities electricity is unreliable (works some days and doesn't work other days).
• Following 11 weeks of Pre-Service Training where all Trainees live with a host family, all Volunteers are required to live with a host family in their site for at least three months, totaling six months with a host family. Volunteers are expected to adjust to the host family in a respectful and thoughtful manner.
• 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 sites 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 and should be prepared to have a routine diet that does not depend on access to a supermarket.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Paraguay: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Couples will live together with a host family during Pre-Service Training but may be separated for certain field-based activities if they are in different project sectors. During service, couples will live together with the same host family. If couples are in different sectors they will be separated for workshops and conferences for up to two weeks at a time due to in-service training events.

Medical Considerations in Paraguay

  • Paraguay may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified. 
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: none identified.
  • After arrival in Paraguay, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

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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