Fellowship Number: 
Field Location: 
Tamale, Ghana
Policy Location: 
Washington, DC
General Scope of Work: 
Improving agricultural value-chains for smallholder farmers
Description of Organization: 

ACDI/VOCA is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes broad-based economic growth, higher living standards and vibrant communities in low-income countries and emerging democracies. Our vision is a world in which people are empowered to succeed in the global economy. We seek to achieve this vision through our mission to promote economic opportunities for cooperatives, enterprises and communities through the innovative application of sound business practice. Based in Washington, D.C., ACDI/VOCA has worked in 146 countries since 1963 and currently manages 51 projects in 32 countries. We do not address single problems in isolation but rather integrate approaches from our five core areas: 1) agribusiness; 2) enterprise development; 3) financial services; 4) community stabilization and development; and 5) food security.A core aspect of the majority of our programs around the world involves improving agricultural production practices as a stepping stone towards increasing yields and incomes and improving nutrition.

Project Description: 

The USAID/Ghana ADVANCE II project based in Tamale, northern Ghana is a five-year project which started in 2014 with the goal of scaling up agricultural investment to improve the competitiveness of the maize, rice and soybean value chains to achieve a greater degree of food security among the rural population in northern Ghana while increasing competitiveness in the domestic markets. The program will adopt a value chain approach where smallholder farmers will be linked to markets, finance, inputs, equipment, and information through relatively larger nucleus (commercial) farmers and traders (aggregators) who have the capacity to invest in these chains. The ADVANCE Program supports USAID/Ghana’s Feed the Future Initiative mandated to reduce poverty and hunger through inclusive agricultural growth and improved nutrition. A core component of the ADVANCE II project is improving agricultural production practices at the smallholder level. The backbone of the agricultural productivity activities is a ‘cascade’-approach to training, in which senior project technical staff provide a training-of-trainers (ToT) to extension agents, who then provide a ToT to nucleus farmers (lead farmers in project areas), who then provide the final direct training to project beneficiary smallholder farmers. This approach builds capacity and knowledge throughout the chain, creating more widespread and sustainable project impacts.

Field Placement: 

To increase crop yield and quality, ACDI/VOCA HQ technical experts in agricultural productivity and training have developed a standardized approach to pinpointing the most important production practices to change at the smallholder farmer level; and then developing curricula, methodology, and training materials to encourage adoption of these behaviors. While individual components of this comprehensive approach have been piloted in isolation on various field projects, it has not been field tested from start to finish on a single project. The fellow will be tasked with piloting this overall approach with field staff over a full crop production and harvest cycle. By the end of the year, the project’s training materials should be finalized in line with best practices in adult education methodology and crop production practices.

Policy Placement: 

Building on the their experiences in the field, the fellow will come to ACDI/VOCA headquarters with a fully piloted and updated version 1.0 of the agricultural behavior change training toolkit. Over the course of the policy year, the fellow will work with the project management and field technical teams to integrate the toolkit into project programming, and promoting ACDI/VOCA’s work in agricultural training and behavior change to the broader industry and other stakeholders. By the end of the policy year, the training toolkit should have been integrated into the organization’s standard practices manuals and project design processes for all new programs, and should be adopted by at least 2-3 additional projects across the organization.

Education/Experience Required: 
  • Ma/MSc in Agriculture/Agricultural Economics/International Development or related field.
  • Practical or coursework experience in agricultural production, training curriculum development and implementation, and/or agricultural marketing.
  • At least one year of experience, either paid or volunteer, in a developing country context at the community level, ideally working on agricultural development issues.
  • Comfort working with people from diverse cultural contexts.
  • Strong verbal communication and presentation skills and ability to communicate effectively and respectfully in diverse cultural contexts.
  • Strong written communication skills and ability to write clearly, concisely and compellingly.


  • Coursework, at either the undergraduate or graduate level, in agricultural extension/adult education strongly preferred.
  • Field experience in agricultural or rural development.
  • Fluency in at least one of the following: Spanish, French, Portuguese, or other relevant language.
  • Familiarity with Value Chain and Market Systems approaches to international development.
  • Familiarity with social media and diverse, modern methods of communication and information dissemination.
  • Familiarity with USAID programs, strategies and policies, especially regarding agricultural and economic growth.