Sustainable Rural Agriculture Extension Agent

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

Peace Corps Agriculture Volunteers fill a niche in many economically challenged and food insecure communities in Senegal. Volunteers extend farming methods to community growers who work on smallholder family farms—small farms that rely on family labor. They assist smallholder farmers and their family members to adopt improved crop cultivation technologies and practices, particularly conservation agriculture, gardening, improved soil and water conservation, post-harvest management, and farm management. Also, Volunteers assist household members—particularly women—to access, cook, and eat more diverse, nutritious foods to improve their and their families’ well-being.

In Senegal, there is a need for agricultural work opportunities that appeal to youth and that empower women while promoting sustainable agriculture. Given the need to educate the next generation of farmers and gardeners, Volunteers and their community partners work with youth through schools and clubs to promote youth positive development and women’s empowerment while learning agricultural skills and growing gardens. Volunteers place a special emphasis on working with women to increase their productivity through increased access to extension services and other productive resources necessary for agriculture.

The goal of Peace Corps Senegal’s Agriculture project is for Senegalese communities to improve their food security and nutrition. Through the efforts of Volunteers and their partners, communities achieve this goal by working toward two objectives:
1. Increase Master Farmers' and other male, female and youth farmers' capacity to sustainably cultivate improved varieties of staple crops for home consumption and income.
2. Increase farmers' especially youth, women and teachers capacity to sustainably grow more vegetables for home consumption and income.

To tackle food insecurity, rural and urban Agriculture Volunteers are trained to work on:
- Sustainable, environmentally sound, nutrition-sensitive agriculture for greater food security in some of Senegal’s poorest communities
- Developing partnerships with farmer associations, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other institutions at the local level to support and improve farming practices
- Developing locally sustainable sources of improved seed varieties
- Youth positive development through youth clubs and agriculturally-focused student groups
- Gender empowerment as a pathway to achieving sustainable development
- Building a partnership with pilot and master farmers

Peace Corps has found that the best agriculture extension agent is the smallholder farmer. Volunteers work with a growing cadre of pilot and master farmers who are prepared to commit to sharing their expertise with other growers through trainings and demonstrations.

As an Agriculture Volunteer in Senegal, you will provide a valuable service to your community in their quest for increased food production, by promoting the transfer of appropriate skills and technologies through one-on-one field based instruction of farmers or groups training.

While serving, you will act as a facilitator, co-trainer, catalyst, liaison and resource person for farming communities. You don't need to be a farmer or a food security expert to be a successful. We will train you on the basic technical skills you will need and on gender dynamics in Senegal. In addition, we will provide you advice and feedback on the activities you will implement.

As an actor in the development of Senegal, and as part of the wider Peace Corps effort to share our story with our counterparts and host governments as well as to bring that story home to the US, you will monitor and report on your work activities throughout your service through field visits, surveys and stories.

Due to COVID-19, there may be some changes to the activities and living conditions stated here. Flexibility and adaptability are important for Volunteer service, especially during these unprecedented times.

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 degrees and/or sector-specific experience:
• Bachelor of Science degree or Associate degree in Agronomy, Horticulture, or other related fields
• At least 5 years of total work experience, of which at least 3 years should be full-time on farm or agriculture focused work

Competitive candidates will also have one or more of the following qualifications and qualities:
• A desire to work outdoors
• Experience with or interest in growing food
• Interest or experience in promoting food security
• An interest in working with youth and/or in increasing the empowerment of women and girls in agricultural communities
• Strong interpersonal skills

French language skills are desirable but not required. Candidates with French language skills, especially strong speaking skills, are encouraged to apply.

Required Language Skills

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

The dominant languages in Senegal are Wolof and Pulaar, but there are many other smaller language groups as well. You will receive intensive training in the most common language of the village where you will be based and you will attain a proficiency level in that language by the time you complete your Pre-Service Training. Most of your work will be carried out in a local language.

Peace Corps Senegal does not train in French, preferring to focus on the primary language that the Volunteer will speak. French language skills are, however, very useful in Senegal, particularly when traveling or when working with people from other parts of the country. You are encouraged to learn as much French as possible prior to arrival in country.

Living Conditions

All Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers live with families, sharing meals and camaraderie with them. This affords you an opportunity to understand the culture, enjoy the security of family life and learn the language of your community. Volunteers have a private room/hut and private latrine/toilet within the family living environment. Sustainable Rural Agriculture Extension Agents generally live in villages. However, given the COVID-19 pandemic, some independent living situations may be utilized in more urban and semi-urban areas.

Many Volunteer homes do not have access to running water or electricity. Water is collected at a community pump or well. Cell phone coverage in Senegal is fairly good and you will have a Peace Corps issued cell phone. Internet is becoming more widely available, although it is still not available everywhere. You may be able to access 4G. Internet coverage is more commonly available in larger towns and cities.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring a laptop for project planning, monitoring and reporting. However, keep in mind that the dust, heat and humidity of Senegal are hard on electronics. It can be very useful to have a laptop and a smart phone, but you may not wish to invest in the most expensive model; cheaper used and/or hardier models may be better options.

Senegalese dishes are tasty, usually consisting of a staple of rice, millet, or corn with vegetable sauces and sometimes with fresh or dried fish. Meat is also available but more of a rarity. There is far less variety than many Americans are accustomed to having. Determined vegetarians are able to make arrangements to maintain their diet, but this usually further decreases variety.

Senegal enjoys a good primary road system, but transportation remains a challenge. You will usually travel in crowded, shared taxis and buses over rough roads, particularly outside of urban areas. You will travel by bike or on foot or donkey cart for shorter trips within your community and to nearby towns or villages. In all cases, Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to observe Peace Corps Senegal’s transportation policy.

Senegalese pride themselves on being well dressed. A neat and dignified appearance will say a lot about your desire to be accepted as a colleague. During Pre-Service Training, the dress code is business casual. For working in farms and fields and while in your community, dress is more casual, but you will want to be well dressed for meetings and formal occasions. There is a lot of beautiful cloth available in Senegal, and many Volunteers have clothing made by local tailors. If you are a woman, plan to wear clothing that is not overly tight and that covers you to below the knee. If you are a man, long shorts are acceptable for farm labor and sports, but otherwise are rarely worn.

Through inclusive recruitment and retention of staff and Volunteers, the Peace Corps seeks to reflect the rich diversity of the United States and bring diverse perspectives and solutions to development issues. Volunteers who are of an American racial, ethnic, or national minority or whose religious or spiritual beliefs differ from the majority may experience curiosity and unwanted attention from Senegalese nationals.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) Volunteers are welcomed within the Peace Corps Volunteer and staff community, and many LGBTQ Volunteers have served here successfully.

Senegal 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 former Volunteers will address these topics during Pre-Service Training, and identify potential support mechanisms for incoming trainees.

Serving in Senegal

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Senegal: 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

Senegal can accommodate couples serving together but working in different projects. Therefore, your partner must qualify and apply for the following position:

Forestry and Environment Change Agent

Couples will live together during Pre-Service Training as well as the two years of service. They will live in independent housing with a private latrine or bathroom.

Medical Considerations

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


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