Extension Associate – The Harvest Fund

1 week ago

Job Description

Title: Extension Associate

Reporting Supervisor: Technical Director

Location: Chikankata or Mazabuka, Zambia

Employment Type: Initial 6-month probationary period followed by 1-year employment contract renewable

Travel: Field visits to Mazabuka, Kafue, Chilanga, Chikankata and Lusaka.

The Harvest Fund Background
The Harvest Fund is an innovative NGO with a business arm. It functions as a social enterprise. It supports sustainable agriculture programmes, climate smart technologies, and microfinance/input finance to high-potential women’s farming cooperatives. Our work is rooted in the idea that with a supportive, holistic environment, rural subsistence farmers can adopt technical knowhow, latest techniques and technologies to help them eventually escape poverty and graduate to emergent farmers or better.

Program Description
The Harvest Fund has a replicable model that has scaled from one to now six women farming cooperatives across Southern and Lusaka Provinces. The Harvest Fund selects high-potential women’s cooperatives in the target areas through a competitive selection criteria. The interventions with each cooperative go beyond training. On the cooperative’s land, The Harvest Fund’s service partners drill boreholes and install irrigation systems that run on solar-powered energy. Each cooperative receives fencing wire to avert crop damage by livestock. With the solar-powered irrigation system, Zambian women overcome the limitations of unreliable rainfall patterns and water scarcity. The year-round irrigated land allows each cooperative to cultivate high-value crops to reduce reliance on maize thereby increasing their productivity and incomes. For the irrigated plot, The Harvest Fund provides the cooperatives with seeds/seedlings, agro-pesticides, and all inputs to grow those vegetables on their shared plot. Plans and initial steps are already underway for The Harvest Fund to also serve as the offtaker and convert the crops to packaged food (value addition through food processing) through its business arm.

Position Description
The Extension Associate will be responsible for acting as an on-the-ground trainer and supporter of cooperatives and farmers while working with line government ministries and other stakeholders. The Associate would report to the Technical Director and assume responsibility for the farmers’ successful cultivation of maize and vegetables through the set targets and deliverables. The Associate would work with each cooperative to ensure they can minimize internal conflicts and meet their harvest targets. The Associate would also help each cooperative member to adopt a problem-solving mindset to address obstacles, such as breakdowns or servicing of the solar-powered water pump, crop damage by livestock if any among others. Most importantly, the agent should strive to develop a trustworthy relationship with each farmer and cooperative and work in their best interests. The ultimate goal is to improve each farmer’s maize and vegetable production, technology adoption, and participation within their cooperative, and access to stable markets through a win-win situation.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Organise weekly extension on conservation agriculture and climate-smart agriculture practices for maize and vegetable production.
Coordinate routine training dates and times with cooperatives.
Maintain active knowledge of modern smallholder agricultural practices, preferably conservation, regenerative, or climate-smart, through self study or other means. Support all farmers especially those who experience low yield or incomes to meet the set targets

Communicate with Technical Director regularly and, preferably at a minimum of a weekly basis.
Participate in regularly scheduled team meetings when called upon.
Follow necessary organisation protocols for expense tracking, invoicing, etc.

Cooperative Capacity Building
As needed, facilitate any activities required to build the capacity of each cooperative, e.g. mediate during searches for shared plots of land.
Encourage soft-skills development such as teamwork, program commitment, problem-solving, professionalism, and timeliness.
Report any cooperative issues to the Technical Director.

Inputs Delivery and Off-take Logistics
Dependent on start/end of contract, collect farmer demand for seeds/seedlings, fertilisers, and pesticides and inform farmers of opportunity to purchase inputs on credit.
Facilitate deliveries of inputs, wire fencing, solar panels, solar pump and pump parts, or other supplies.
Coordinate crop sales and sales record, production records and activity reports.
Monitor processing, packaging of crops and delivery to the market along any other assigned roles.

Monitoring and Evaluation/Data Collection
Work with management to understand farmer data collection via Kobo Toolbox and Google Forms.
Collect farmer data on a quarterly or annual basis, as instructed by Directors.
Complete monthly crop forecast survey on cooperative crop production.

Required Skills and Experience
An undergraduate degree, diploma or certificate in crop science, agronomy, agribusiness or similar qualifications.
Conversational in a local language widely-spoken in Lusaka and Southern Provinces, such as Nyanja and Tonga; additional conversational abilities in Bemba and other languages would be a plus.
Minimum of 5 years of experience working in the Zambian public sector, private sector, with an NGO, or on a donor-funded agricultural development project
Experience working with subsistence farmers.
Good knowledge of agronomy and, preferably, climate-smart, conservation and/or regenerative agriculture
2+ years of experience working in the agriculture sector, specifically with regards to cultivation of maize and vegetables, such as tomatoes, okra, and leafy greens
Excellent interpersonal, communication, facilitation, negotiation, email, and digital tool skills.
Ability to adopt an entrepreneurial attitude, work efficiently, and for extended hours in the field
Good computer skills with access to the internet and some proficiency in MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
Must possess a valid unrestricted motor vehicle driver’s license.
Must be willing to be based in the Chikankata or Mazabuka area throughout the contract’s life with the possibility of travel across target project districts.
Potential to manage food processing operations and support staff or temporal field workers.
Preferred: Knowledge of Kobo Toolbox, horticultural crop production, nutrition, gender inclusion, small scale farmer irrigation, soil science, food processing, or the Zambian private sector landscape and agriculture networks.

Application Instructions:

Qualified and interested applicants must complete the following application form here.

Given the large amount of applications, only those who meet minimum qualifications and are successfully shortlisted will be contacted.