Texas A&M University will send nine fellows to Ghana this year
By Diego Flammini
An American school is accepting applications for a new program designed to help rural communities in Ghana.
Until Feb. 1, any American citizen who has completed or will earn a bachelor’s degree in an ag program by Aug. 1, can apply for Texas A&M University's International Agricultural Education Fellowship Program (IAEFP).
This program is fully funded by the Unites States Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service. The funding includes airfare, insurance and a monthly stipend, will see nine fellows spend time in Ghanaian communities during the 2021-2022 school year.
“Our fellows will serve in Ghana for about 10 months as agriculture teachers in the classroom along with ag teachers in those communities,” Jessica Spence, the program coordinator, told Farms.com. “The fellows are going in to support them, to be an extension agent in the community and to start up or support existing 4-H programs.”
Activities could include weekend extension training for farmers and planting vegetables with students at a school garden.
Selected people should expect to leave some time in August, Spence said.
Accepted fellows will receive training before leaving for Ghana. While in Africa they will receive additional training as well as a chance to share their experiences when they return to U.S. soil.
“There can be a reverse culture shock when you come back from an experience like that,” Spence said. “We want to give (the fellows) an opportunity to reflect on their time in Ghana and use those experiences at home or in their future careers.”
Agriculture is a major industry in Ghana.
About 52 percent of the country’s labor force is engaged in agriculture and the sector contributes to around 54 percent of the country’s GDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations says.
Farmers in the sector are predominantly smallholder and acreages range anywhere from half of one acre to 10 acres.
Having Americans in Ghana who can bring modern ag experiences can help students learn about ag and help local farmers be better growers, Spence said.
“Ghana has a very youthful population and want to use that youth as a catalyst for action,” she said. “We want to bring our innovations, techniques and technologies to those communities through youth to help them start a business, be entrepreneurs and learn better farming practices.”
Anyone interested in participating has until Feb. 1 to apply.
Applications must include a resume or CV, an official transcript, an essay explaining how his or her experiences will make them the ideal fellow and two reference letters.
Spence and the IAEFP leadership team will assess applications to determine possible fellows.
Applicants who make it past the first stage will be asked to participate in an interview over Zoom.
Anyone with questions can email Spence.