The International Executive Services Corps (IESC) is implementing the Improving Food Safety Systems Project (IFSSP) through Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) with funding from USAID. IFSSP is providing market-based solutions to generate buy-in for adherence to sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards and participation in a traceability system. The project is also strengthening the SPS compliance system for Ghanaian fruits and vegetables, and facilitating collaboration between the public and private sector for active growth in productivity and export trade.
Job Title: Agricultural Record Keeping Specialist
As part of project, IFSSP recently completed an integrated pest management (IPM) focused value chain assessment on mango and chili . One of the outcomes of this assessment is that record keeping at the grower-level is limited and largely unavailable. This has been attributed to low levels of capacity in record keeping among most small-scale farmers. As a best practice, proper record keeping should reflect the varieties grown, planting dates, and other agronomic practices at minimum. There should also be records on sources of agro-chemicals, types, and application dates. Additionally, some lending institutions require detailed business and personal information on everything a farmer owns, as well as the status of unpaid loans. They may also require production records and an estimate of expected sales and expenses for the next year. Increasingly, regulations also require farmers to keep records of chemical application and soil and water conservation plans for environmental concerns. Organizations such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) also require farmers to report cash sales, expenses, depreciation, and information on government program participation. The efficient management of a farm operation, therefore, requires sound recordkeeping and record analysis. Both production and financial records are important to the efficient management of today’s farm business. When such information is accurately maintained and categorized, it can be useful decision-making information that will lead to increased returns on investment in farm business enterprises.
Therefore, IFSSP is supporting this effort by seeking a volunteer expert to provide training on record keeping systems and small business practices to export-oriented vegetable producers and agricultural extension officers.
Objectives of the Assignment:
The main objectives of this assignment are:
- To enhance the skills and knowledge and build capacity of farmers through training in good record keeping and small business practices
- Make recommendations that would lead to the adoption and application of good record keeping systems on farmer fields
Tasks to be Performed:
The specific tasks to be performed will be to develop relevant training materials and use them for training of vegetable producers and ‘training of trainers’ (ToT) for agriculture extension agents. These materials could cover the following areas:
- What is record keeping
- Importance of record keeping
- General principles of record keeping
- Steps to good record keeping
- Record keeping for small scale farmers as it pertains to incorporation into traceability systems, including planting dates, source of seeds/seedlings, farm size, cultural practices (weeding, sowing, fertilizing, spraying), type of agro-chemicals used, cost of operations/equipment, harvesting, sales (when possible information needed for the pilot traceability system will also be shared)
Review the following documents:
- Any relevant training materials from host organization/project
- IESC Type 2 PERSUAP Assignment Volunteer Package (see PERSUAP information below)
- Report on IPM-focused mango and chili value chain assessment developed under this project
The volunteer is also expected to work on the following with inputs from IFSSP staff before traveling to Ghana:
- Finalize training plan
- Develop training curriculum
- Develop training materials
- Attend an orientation meeting at IFSSP/IESC Accra office
- Meet with the project country director and other technical specialists to understand the current stage of implementation of IFSSP
- Provide Training of Trainers (ToT) to about 10 Agricultural Extension Officers
- Support agricultural extension staff to train about 100 farmers in record keeping principles and best practices
- Provide recommendations for adoption by producers
- Organize a debriefing session for IFSSP field staff and other relevant stakeholders to report feedback and discuss the suggested follow-up plans on the recommendations, as well as capture impact
Materials Needed for the Assignment:
- Volunteers are to come along with any relevant training and teaching materials (it could be electronic, video or a written document) that will be helpful in conducting the volunteer assignment.
- Volunteers are encouraged to bring important items such as insect repellant, flash lights, power banks, clothing to protect from insect bites, and footwear that will be comfortable to wear at the field sites.
On the first day with the host organization, the VE will work their technical/extension officers to review the training materials. The VE will, in addition, provide training to the technical/extension officers using a ‘Training of Trainers’ (ToT) approach. The objective is to prepare the officers to actively support the VE throughout the assignment. This will typically be a whole day’s activity. During the remaining days of the assignment, the VE is expected to work with the trained officers to provide training to the farmers. This forms part of the project’s exit strategy to concretely transfer knowledge and build the capacity of frontline technical officers.
F2F Programmatic Pesticide Evaluation Report and Safer Use Action Plan (PERSUAP) Requirements:
In view of the fact that this assignment may provide indirect assistance for the use or procurement of pesticides, the volunteer will likely be in the field and may have the opportunity to encourage good practices in pesticide use and discourage bad practices. However, the volunteer is not expected to recommend or provide advice on specific pesticide active ingredients or products. For this assignment, the volunteer must do the following for a Type 2 assignment:
- Review the F2F Environmental Brochure and the F2F Programmatic Pesticide Evaluation Report-Safe Use Action Plan (PERSUAP) and shall comply with requirements described in Section 4 of the SUAP when providing “assistance for the procurement or use” of pesticides. The consultant is not expected to provide recommendations for specific pesticide active ingredients or products, but rather to provide advice, if necessary, on safe use of pesticides, and to discourage poor practices in pesticide use, transport, mixing, storage, application, and disposal.
- Review the guidance in attachments B, C, F, and H of the PERSUAP and the information in the pesticide questionnaire that each country F2F Program submitted during preparation of this PERSUAP, and shall be prepared to provide recommendations, based on this guidance, to recipients of F2F technical assistance.
- At his/her discretion, provide recommendations to the F2F country office for additional F2F support for pesticide safe use training, IPM, or other pesticide-related topics.
- Submit a brief report describing: (1) Limitations and successes of the PERSUAP; (2) Recommendations for additional technical assistance and training needed to improve pest and pesticide management practices; and (3) New recommendations on IPM practices and feedback on the effectiveness of IPM practices used locally.
End of Assignment Report and Other Deliverables Required:
- Volunteer Trip Report
- All training material developed and used
- PERSUAP report
Expertise of Volunteer Expert Requested:
- Higher university degree in agriculture extension, agricultural science or a related field
- 10 years’ experience in agricultural development and recording keeping
- Experience with training and mentoring subsistence farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, preferably West Africa
- Good writing and analytical skills, interpersonal communication and presentation skills (adult education skills), ability and desire to teach in both classroom and field settings
- Ability to quickly adapt to new working environments and use interpreters. Ability to sense and identify if the interpretation is correct and farmers are getting what is being delivered
- Good facilitation skills
- Flexibility and ability to work with large groups of varying ages, experiences and literacy levels
USAID and IESC encourages all F2F volunteers to participate in public outreach. An important objective of the program is to increase awareness of Americans’ good work in developing countries. Volunteers should select at least one outreach activity from the list below, to be completed within two months of return to the US:
- Write an entry for the IESC blog.
- Post a photo, video, or text related to the F2F assignment on a personal website, blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or other social media site. –And send a link to IESC staff.
- Send a press release to local newspaper(s) in the volunteer’s home town. (IESC can provide a template).
- Write something for an alumni or professional association newsletter, or other publication. (IESC can help as needed).
- Give a presentation about the F2F assignment to colleagues, students, church group, rotary club, etc.
- Send an email about F2F to friends, family, or colleagues.