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Post-Doctoral Fellow at Biodiversity International

Bioversity International is a global research-for-development organization. Our vision is that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet.

We deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.

We work with partners in low-income countries in different regions where agricultural biodiversity can contribute to improved nutrition, resilience, productivity and climate change adaptation.

Bioversity International is a CGIAR Research Centre.

For further information on Bioversity International, consult our Web page at:

www.bioversityinternational.org

Context 

West Africa produces 70% of global cocoa but is facing unprecedented challenges with anomalous climates. Extreme temperatures and water stress put pressure on the cocoa sector, including millions of smallholder cocoa producers and the chocolate industry.

Current recommendations for cocoa planting material in Ghana do not respond to shifts in regional climatic and agro-ecological conditions. There have been successful efforts to provide solutions to these problems using a scalable citizen science approach(1) for on-farm testing of crop varieties for climate adaptation.

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), WOTRO Science for Global Development has awarded a grant to Bioversity International and its partners to execute the project “Cocoa Target: Using citizen science to improve climatic and agro-ecological targeting of varietal recommendations and accelerating planting material access for cocoa farmers in Ghana”.

This project will be the first one to apply the citizen science “triadic comparisons of technologies or tricot(2) ” approach to a perennial crop, cocoa. Through a strategic public-private-civil society partnership, the project partners will seek to adapt the tricot approach to cocoa variety testing, working particularly with women farmers.

Stakeholders of the project will develop and validate processes and guidelines for the production and distribution of selected climatically adapted, stress-tolerant cocoa varieties in a network of nurseries and budwood gardens, to ensure constant variety renewal depending on the emerging needs of farmers and the findings on climate adaptation from on-farm testing.

The project partners will design appropriate dissemination and scaling mechanisms by supporting inclusive business development to ensure the delivery of diverse and adapted genetic materials of cocoa addressing the specific demand of farmers. 

Role

Bioversity is looking for a Post-Doctoral Fellow to work with a team of experts and different stakeholders to coordinate the project “CocoaTarget: Using citizen science to improve climatic and agro-ecological targeting of varietal recommendations and accelerating planting material access for cocoa farmers in Ghana” and execute high-quality research on cocoa seed systems and farmer variety trials in Ghana.

Key Responsibilities

Based in Ghana, under the supervision of the project leader, the Post-Doctoral Fellow will play a proactive role in coordinating activities and communicating results with project partners and stakeholders. More specifically, s/he will:

  • Support the design and organization of large-scale farmer-participatory and conventional field trial  with the different partners of the project
  • Develop experimental protocols, digital data collection formats, and training materials
  • Provide guidance and training to farmer organizations in conducting participatory field trials
  • Perform quantitative analysis of field experimental data, combining variety performance data, farmer-generated data, and climate data
  • Record and analyse farmers’ and extension agents’ experiences with the tricot citizen science approach
  • Support joint learning events and activities around the experimental network
  • Support the development of multiple tree species nursery business model
  • Support coordination of activities across project partners, such as:

        o support reporting processes with technical inputs

        o support preparation of partners and stakeholders meetings,  prepare minutes of the meetings

        o monitor field implementation of project activities

  • Initiate and lead the preparation of academic publications, and contribute to dissemination  and publication of project results using different media (blogs, newspaper/TV, peer review journal)

[1] “Citizen Science […] covers a range of different levels of participation: from raising public knowledge about science, encouraging citizens to participate in the scientific process by observing, gathering and processing data, right up to setting scientific agenda and codesigning and implementing science-related policies.” (Source: EC, Horizon 2020, Science with and for society Work Programme 2018-2020, p.30). For more information also visit:http://www.sisnetwork.eu/media/sisnet/Policy_brief_Citizen_Science_SiSnet.pdf

[1] The methodology involves distributing a pool of agricultural technologies in different combinations of three to individual farmers who observe these technologies under farm conditions and compare their performance. Since the combinations of three technologies overlap, statistical methods can piece together the overall performance ranking of the complete pool of technologies (Source: van Etten et al. 2017. First experiences with a novel farmer citizen science approach: crowdsourcing participatory variety selection through on-farm triadic comparisons of technologies (tricot).Experimental Agriculture.)​


Requirements

Qualifications and competencies 

Essential qualifications and competencies

o PhD in agricultural sciences or related area

o Knowledge of crop production ecology and plant ecophysiology

o Knowledge of social science research methods

o Expertise in qualitative and quantitative data analysis methods

o Excellent command of the English language, both written and spoken

o Strong analytical and synthesizing skills; ability to think and write clearly and concisely scientific documents and research protocols

o Strong teamwork, interpersonal and communications skills; courtesy, tact and the ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with people of different cultural and national backgrounds

o Highly developed skills with personal organization and priority setting

o Ability to work with a high degree of independence within assigned areas, complemented by sound judgment and initiative, flexibility and adaptability

Desirable qualifications and competencies

o Experience in participatory research methods

o Experience in the design of field experiments and data collection 

o Experience of the Cocoa sector in Ghana, sensible to the specific policy environment

o Experience in an international working environment, senior government officials, research institutes, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and local communities

o Experience in gender analysis

o Knowledge of the triadic comparisons of technologies (tricot) approach and citizen science approach

o Basic knowledge of programming in R, python or similar

o Experience in integrating field-based social science research into policy action or adaptive project monitoring and evaluation

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