Location Vientiane, Laos
Start Date Jul - Sep 2017 (flexible)
Length of Placement 12 Months
Language Requirements English
English Reading: Level 5, Writing: Level 5, Speaking: Level 5
Language Scale: http://www.cusointernational.org/languageratingscale
Open to Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents only
Rice is a particularly important agricultural crop for both food security and commercial purposes in South East Asia; apart from being ingrained into culture and practices of many diverse peoples in the Laos this staple crop constitutes approximately two-thirds of the calorific intake for most of the population. Currently most rice is produced for consumption relying predominantly on rain-fed agriculture but in recent years there has been increasing support from government and development agencies for boosting production, generating surpluses to improve rural incomes as well as food security, together with increased speculation of private sector companies.
Cuso International Laos has been exploring opportunities for the past few years with our partners in agriculture and has done a lot of research & feasibility studies.
Additional research was also conducted in collaboration with North Island College, Vancouver into export and potential links were made for international rice distribution.
In this placement you will have the opportunity to support Cuso International Laos and our long-standing partner organization Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association, who have had a funded project with @ 700 rice farmers in Xiengkhouang Proving of Laos since 2009. Production in the past has mostly focused on food security butSustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association is now keen to increase farmers’ incomes from sale of surpluses. Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association aim to upgrade the quality of rice, and gradually shift from domestic markets towards certification and standards that also meet the demands of international niche markets that afford a better share of profits for farmers.
When preparing to start this placement you will be provided with background project documents, research studies and earlier marketing and business analysis reports to review and become familiar with.
You will have the opportunity to review and refine the business plans of Lao Organic Products in Agriculture (LOPA) with short, medium and long term strategies based on:
- farmers changing capacities (production volumes, quality, certification & food safety)
- funding, investment, infrastructure and amount of working capital.
- market access and critical success factors for both domestic markets and export potential.
As a volunteer, you will:
- Prepare a comprehensive strategic business plan for LOPA with staff structures, governance and management systems that match the progression of growth and movement towards higher-end markets
- Liaise with other stakeholders, organizations (and Cuso volunteers who have been involved with this project) in order to maximize opportunities, strengthen business relations and draw on expertise available.
- Assist Cuso International and SAEDA staff in the preparation of additional project assistance, investment planning and other mechanisms to improve the funding base of this project
- Contribute to VOICE broader strategy implementation and identify gender specific considerations and measure to increase social inclusion of indigenous minority groups, under employed youth and other marginalized groups in Laos
Essential Academic Qualifications:
Degree in Business Management or comparable training in Organizational Development
Essential Professional Background:
- Business development and financial/investment planning
- Organizational development and project management
Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association
Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association was first established as Sustainable Agriculture Forum (SAF) it was an informal Lao civil society network founded in 1991. In 1995, SAF was adopted by Cuso International Laos as an umbrella project to help facilitate and support its operations. In 2007, SAF became Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association (SAEDA). SAEDA is still in the process of obtaining the legal status (NPA license) from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
SAEDA's mission is to develop and promote sustainable agriculture, environmental conservation, and food security through capacity development, income generation, and healthy food. Also, SAEDA's mission is to empower poor communities composed of farmers, women, youth and ethnic groups. SAEDA’s vision is to envision a future for Lao communities with improved sustainable livelihoods in food security and nutrition, based on environmentally sound agricultural development.
SAEDA has five main objectives:
- To support Lao PDR to attain its Sustainable Development Goals, and implement the National Socio-Economic Development Plan & National Growth Poverty Eradication Strategy;
- To develop and promote good practices for sustainable agriculture, pesticide risk reduction, environment conservation, and food safety. Share appropriate technologies to improve productivity, health, and income;
- By using participatory approaches, to develop the capacities of farmers, government partners, and extension workers in local, national levels and access to international markets;
- To build model farms, to support the Farmer to Farmer Extension and farmer organizations, and linkages to network and fair trade markets;
- To research and develop mechanisms to gain access to appropriate tools and information.
Cuso International terms and conditions allow you to lead a modest and healthy lifestyle while being effective in your placement. This support package will cover basic living expenses for one volunteer and is not intended to cover home-based expenses (ex. loans, support payments, etc.) or luxury items such as imported items in placement or international personal travel.
- Modest monthly living allowance (varies depending country)
- Accommodation while in placement
- Return airfare and visa/work permit costs
- Cost of required vaccinations, antimalarial medication and health insurance
- Pre-departure training and in-country orientation
- Travel and accommodation for reintegration debriefing weekend
- Modest support for accompanying partners and dependents going on placement with you for 12 months or longer
- Access to Employee Assistance Program while in placement and upon return
- Cuso International assessment day (Candidates must cover the first $200 of the most cost-effective travel expenses and all accommodation costs).
- Travel and accommodation for the five-day pre-departure training course and for in-country orientation
We ask each volunteer, regardless of placement length, to raise $2,000. All volunteers receive support from Cuso International to help achieve the goal through fundraising. If the volunteer chooses not to fundraise or is unable to achieve the fundraising goal, he/she can make a one-time donation or become a monthly donor to support our work.
Depending on the nature of the placement, volunteers are encouraged to provide e-volunteering support to the local partner or Cuso International before or after the field placement. Volunteers also have the option of requesting support from an e-volunteer to help them with their work while they are in placement.
Residency and Citizenship
The majority of Cuso International volunteer applicants are residing in Canada at the time of application and during the pre-departure process. Occasionally we received applications from volunteer applicants who are residing outside of Canada at the time of application. In both instances, between your application date and placement start date, we must be able to contact you and you must be able to contact us easily and promptly throughout the process.
We may require your passport and would need to be aware of your current place of residence and any travel plans you may have during this time. You will also require unrestricted access to Canada during this time for assessment and training, as applicable.
Leaving your country of residence can have significant effects on your citizenship status in that country. It is your responsibility to research the consequences of travelling to Canada during the pre-departure process if you are living outside of Canada and of leaving your country of residence for a placement with the immigration authority where you live.
By applying to this placement, you accept full responsibility for any consequences related to your citizenship, residency and immigration status or penalties as a result of travel to an assessment day, training course, international placement or other Cuso International related travel.
You must check the implications that apply to you, but examples include:
- Canadian permanent residents may need to make arrangements with immigration authorities before travelling. These arrangements allow them to travel without risk to their status in Canada. Without them, residency status may be withdrawn.
- Citizens of other countries, including those visiting Canada on a visa, may have travel restrictions.