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Agriculture Extension Volunteer

Project description

Akwaaba! (Welcome!) Volunteers in Ghana will serve in a stable democracy with a rich history, hospitable and diverse cultures. Ghana recognizes over 70 languages and tribes throughout the sixteen regions, all of whom co-exist harmoniously. Welcoming visitors is a point of cultural identity and the ultimate expression of Ghanaian culture. Acknowledging the presence of another human being by greeting them honors their existence. In the local communities, visitors will be welcomed into families and quickly be made to feel at home. Ghana is Peace Corps’ oldest post, hosting Volunteers since the Agency’s first cohort in 1961.
The Agriculture project has 3 objectives:
(1) Increasing smallholder farmers’ capacity to improve the diversity, productivity and/or sustainability of their agricultural production.
(2) Increasing smallholder farmers’ capacity to generate agriculture-related income, and
(3) Increasing the capacity of women of reproductive age (WRA) and/or key household decision makers to increase the dietary diversity of households.
To achieve these objectives, Agricultural Volunteers collaborate with community leaders to identify community needs and implement appropriate interventions. Therefore, Volunteers play the role of catalyst for a wide range of activities limited only by the creativity of the community and the Volunteers. Activities may include but are not limited to:
· Increase food security by working with small holder farmers to improve crop production, storage of harvested products, and add value to agricultural products.
· Co-train farmers on ways to increase small scale animal husbandry, work with partners and women of reproductive age to improve household nutrition,
· Co-train farmers on record keeping and village savings and loans associations (VSLAs).
· Support communities’ efforts at climate adaptation, mitigation and building sustainable communities.
Cross-cutting across the three objective areas, Volunteers will look for ways to collaborate with community members to work with youth, women and girls’ to promote gender equitable norms.
Of great importance in any community development work is the time one takes just being there, developing relationships, and building trust.
Volunteers are trained and equipped with the skills necessary to carry out these activities during Pre-Service Training (PST).

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
• 5 years' professional work experience

Desired skills

Competitive candidates will have at least one or more of the following relevant qualifications:
• Familiarity with agriculture and farm work focusing on vegetable gardening, animal husbandry and/or integrated agriculture systems
• Experience talking to groups of people about agricultural practices and technologies
• Experience mobilizing people for group meetings
• Experience delivering training on agricultural topics
• Experience with small scale field experiments
• Knowledge of basic field crop, tree crop or vegetable production practices and technologies
• Experience in project planning is an added advantage

Required language skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position. Ghana is a country with a plethora of local languages although English is considered one of the national languages. As such, we teach everyone a local language that will be spoken at their permanent site. Nonetheless, Volunteers should know that more than a third of our Volunteers end up acquiring a second local language when living at their site. Acquiring a local language will endear the Volunteer to community members as well as other host country nationals. While English may be sufficient in professional settings, many community members may be more comfortable in their local language. Developing a deep understanding and proficiency in local language will make it easier for a volunteer to navigate and work in the local culture and community.

Living conditions

Volunteers are placed in rural communities and expected to live in the same socio-economic conditions as the people with whom they serve. Peace Corps/Ghana requires the community to contribute housing that meets the minimum standard of at least one room with a porch/sitting area. Housing is to be ventilated with a roof, a solid floor and walls, access to year-round water supply (via boreholes and wells) and doors with locks and windows. Some Volunteers will have private latrines and bathing facilities (often a bucket bath). Others will share latrines and bathing facilities with not more than 6 people in the household. Volunteers will be issued a cook stove to be used in a designated cooking area and all housing will maintain high standards of household safety. Peace Corps and Host communities will ensure that you have safe cooking environment and equipment.

Volunteers’ sites vary widely due to several factors including geography, and this extends to amenities available at each site (electricity, water), distances to travel, proximity of other Volunteers and general remoteness of sites. Some Volunteers will live in self-contained concrete houses while others will have one or two rooms inside a family compound. Flexibility and a positive attitude will help greatly in adapting to your new living situation.

Pre-Service Training (PST) is an 11-week training that is intended to ensure that Volunteers are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to begin a successful service. PST in Ghana will be community-based. Volunteers will receive training in their technical area, language, personal health and safety and security as well as a practicum. Volunteers are evaluated on their competencies in each of these areas. Outside of formal training there will be opportunities for Volunteers to interact and possibly live with community members, to provide an immersive approach to understanding Ghanaian culture.

Climate: The climate of Ghana is tropical, with two main seasons. The dry season is from November through April and the rainy season is from May through August. It is hot and comparatively dry along the southeast coast, hot and humid in the southwest, and dry in the north. During the dry season, the Harmattan winds are most extreme in the five northern regions with days of continual cool air, haze, and fine dust.

Communication & Transportation: Communication systems have been steadily improving throughout Ghana, and cell phone reception is available at some sites and in walking distance from other sites. The level of reception, clarity, and speed of internet (where available) varies greatly throughout the country.

Transportation: Volunteers live and work in rural, underserved communities. Transportation to and from your permanent community is primarily via public vehicles, which, depending on the remoteness of the site, can have irregular schedules and may or may not be well maintained. Often, travel requires long hours on rough roads in buses and minivans. Volunteers generally walk or bike around their communities. Volunteers are not permitted to drive or ride motor bikes.

Dress: Ghanaians are very meticulous about their dress and personal hygiene in the workplace and cleanliness is a sign of respect. Volunteers are expected to dress and behave accordingly. Personal appearance is important to people in Ghana. During Pre-Service Training, the appropriate dress is business casual. Following pre-service training, you will need to dress appropriately for work situations in your community. Dressing appropriately will help you gain respect in your host community, facilitate integration, and increase your credibility and effectiveness. Take cues from your Ghanaian colleagues, and dress to their standards of professionalism.

Volunteers with visible body piercings or tattoos may need strategies to conceal them. Having visible body piercings and tattoos may make it more difficult to integrate into your host community.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Ghana: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and health/crime statistics in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Medical considerations

Before you apply, please review medical clearance and legal clearance to learn about the process.

Couples information

Peace Corps Ghana welcomes couples serving in any combination programs. Your partner must apply and qualify for one of the following programs:
Agriculture Extension Agent
Community Health Extension Agent
Couples with one Community Health Extension Agent and one Agriculture Extension Agent will be able to reside in the same community during Pre-Service Training (PST), if desired. This arrangement would involve one individual “commuting” to their sector training facility – departing early and using public transportation to arrive on time. There will be a 2-week field-based training for each sector and during that time couples will reside separately.
When both partners are part of the same project (e.g., Agriculture Extension Agent with Agriculture Extension Agent), they will reside together in the same community during Pre-Service Training and no one will need to “commute” to a separate training location.
During service at your permanent site, couples living conditions are the same as other Volunteers’, but couples will share a house or living quarters.

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