Mercy Corps

Consultant (Training and Extension Services on Integrated Pest Management - Remote)

Mercy Corps

Job Description

With programs in over 41 countries around the world, Mercy Corps exists to alleviate suffering, poverty, and oppression by helping people build secure, productive, and just communities. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war over nine years ago, Mercy Corps has worked to address the urgent needs of nearly 4 million people both inside Syria. The program is implemented through a combination of the local and international teams located in different operation areas in Syria, with remote support from the Amman office, Jordan.

Globally, Mercy Corps has made a high-level commitment to achieving greater impact through evidence and learning, adaptive management, using data-driven evidence to demonstrate results and contribute toward solving complex global challenges. It is in this context that the Syria Team created this position.

Program Summary

Mercy Corps is working extensively across NES since 2015 to support Agricultural Production, to improve the availability of and access to food and livelihoods opportunities for households affected by the decade long conflict in Syria. Recent assessments have noted a noticeable decrease in the crop yield in most parts of NES. One of the main reasons stated for the decrease was the high incidence of crop pests and diseases especially the Yellow Rust disease in winter crops. Reducing yield losses in Agriculture is, therefore, one of the priority areas for Mercy Corps in NES. The aim of the pest and disease management activities by Mercy Corps in NES is to safeguard and where possible increase production of healthy food per hectare, with minimal use of artificial fertilizer and chemical pesticides. Most scientists agree that this will only be possible if the cultivation of crops is done according to the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM refers to the way in which growers cultivate and protect their crops based on a knowledge of cycles in and around plants, of equilibriums and relationships of dependence between plants, insects, micro-organisms and nutrients. Sustainable cultivation requires crops to be resistant to diseases and infestations, and the environment in which they are grown needs to have a capacity to repair itself. Mercy Corps, therefore, seeks a consultant to carry out Farmer Field School (FFS) curriculum and SOP with IPM product development and sharing knowledge with farmers in NES to promote IPM stewardship and the safe and judicious use of pesticides. The curriculum should be written in both Arabic and English.

The Building Agricultural Resilience and Providing Food Assistance in Northeast Syria is a 12-month USAID OFDA/FFP funded program implemented by Mercy Corps. The primary goal of the program is to ensure that vulnerable, crisis-affected communities in North-East Syria (NES) are food secure and have increased agricultural production through improved access to quality agricultural inputs and services. The Livelihoods component of the program aims to deliver agricultural and Food Security support to 12,600 individuals (2,100 households), through the provision of agricultural inputs for winter crops, fodder and veterinary consultations to support livestock herders, summer crop cultivation and training for farmers.

Purpose / Project Description:

The Consultant will be working directly with the livelihood team in NES and the country technical Advisor to meet the post objectives. The post will mainly focus to strengthen Mercy Corps knowledge base and Syria organizational skills in delivering high-quality Agriculture programing. The role will input into our existing Farmers’ Field School (FFS) SOP, and our existing pest management practice.

Consultant Objectives:

The following are the objectives of the consultancy:
  1. After reviewing the existing FFS related materials in Mercy Corps globally and in the Syria program, and close consultation with the team and the program participants, develop the FFS curriculum that smoothly incorporates the IPM approach and ensure that Mercy Corps FFS SOP is reflecting that curriculum. Both the final curriculum and the SOP should be produced in Arabic and English languages.
  2. Provide technical knowledge and skills related to crop pest and disease identification to “Lead farmers” in NES.
  3. Equip the “Lead farmers” and Mercy Corps staff with the necessary knowledge about IPM and the various pest and disease management options available in the NES market. Knowledge will be channeled to the Mercy Corps staff through the Training of Trainer (ToT) model.
  4. Develop a pesticide evaluation report safe use action plan (PERSUAP) for the project and train staff on its use.
Consultant Activities:

The Consultant’s assignment will include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following activities:
  • Reviewing all the FFS related materials in Mercy Corps including SOPs, practices and resources.
  • Carrying out a training needs assessment of Farmer Field School (FFS) farmers and based on it prepare a Training curriculum and a training of Trainers (ToT) plan.
  • Providing an initial comprehensive IPM best practices training to “Lead farmers” and Mercy Corps staff on both IPM theory and practical application. The training should be highly participatory and engaging including role-plays and group discussion.
  • Adjusting Mercy Corps FFS SOP and ensure that it reflects the developed curriculum.
  • Developing illustrative training materials and designing simple tools to guide the farmers in formulating IPM approaches and the development of pest and disease management plans/programs.
  • Producing an evaluation report on the trainees, with a strategy for their further Capacity Building (on the job coaching further in-class training if necessary).
  • Developing a pesticide evaluation report safe use action plan (PERSUAP) for the project.
  • Linking farmers to the relevant IPM related actors in the NES market.
Consultant Deliverables:

The following will be outputs expected from the assignment:
  1. At least one illustrative training manual and a set of tools for IPM.
  2. Adjusted FFS SOP.
  3. One simple pest and disease management guide based on IPM principles.
  4. An IPM plan template that can be used by farmers.
  5. At least two IPM demonstration plots showcasing IPM best practices.
  6. Linkage to companies providing relevant IPM solutions in the NES market.
  7. Training reports and attendance lists.
Timeframe / Schedule:

This assignment is for 30 days. Due dates for specific deliverables will be agreed upon with the successful candidate.

The Consultant will report to:

The consultant will report directly to the Livelihoods Program Manager for NES.

The Consultant will work closely with:

The consultant will work closely with the Syria Food Security and Livelihoods Advisor, NES Area Director of Programs and the NES Senior Agriculture Officer.

Required Experience & Skills:

  • **5-10 years of working experience in pest and disease management based on IPM approach especially in the small and medium-scale farmers’ context;
  • Higher education in the sphere of agriculture (agronomy or crop protection), Natural Sciences, biological sciences (entomology), agriculture education and extension or related and relevant field;
  • Relevant professional training in IPM from a recognized institution is an added advantage;
  • Experience with biological pest/disease management options and other non-chemical pests/disease management methods;
  • Awareness of the available IPM solutions in the NES market for pest and disease management in summer and winter crops;
  • Demonstrated experience in Capacity Development of diverse audiences on IPM;
  • Excellent interpersonal and adult training skills;
  • Excellent communication skills, including fluency in English. Arabic will be a plus;
  • Working experience with USAID funded projects will be an advantage.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Achieving our mission begins with how we build our team and work together. Through our commitment to enriching our organization with people of different origins, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of thinking, we are better able to leverage the collective power of our teams and solve the world’s most complex challenges. We strive for a culture of trust and respect, where everyone contributes their perspectives and authentic selves, reaches their potential as individuals and teams, and collaborates to do the best work of their lives.

We recognize that diversity and inclusion is a journey, and we are committed to learning, listening and evolving to become more diverse, equitable and inclusive than we are today.

Equal Employment Opportunity We are committed to providing an environment of respect and psychological safety where equal employment opportunities are available to all. We do not engage in or tolerate discrimination on the basis of race, color, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, sexual orientation, national or ethnic origin, disability (including HIV/AIDS status), marital status, military veteran status or any other protected group in the locations where we work.

Safeguarding & Ethics Mercy Corps team members are expected to support all efforts toward accountability, specifically to our stakeholders and to international standards guiding international relief and development work, while actively engaging communities as equal partners in the Design, monitoring and evaluation of our field projects. Team members are expected to conduct themselves in a professional manner and respect local laws, customs and MC's policies, procedures, and values at all times and in all in-country venues.

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