Consultant – Digital Agriculture Advisory Services – Remote At Mercy Corps


Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. In disaster, in hardship, in more than 40 countries around the world, we partner to put bold solutions into action — helping people triumph over adversity and build stronger communities from within.

Mercy Corps’ Technical Support Unit (TSU) is a key part of the Program Department. It houses subject matter experts whose mission is to help our global teams apply the most effective solutions to the world’s toughest challenges, while building our global reputation and resources to do so. The TSU helps set agency-wide strategy and develops strategic approach documents and other technical briefs for their practice area to inform the entire organization’s work. In addition, it offers technical expertise to offices worldwide – supporting country strategy development and assessments, and engaging throughout the program life cycle from project design and proposal development to quality implementation and evaluations.

Smallholder farmers are at the forefront of climate change – the prolonged periods of droughts or infrequent rains coupled with deforestation lead to land erosion, loss of productivity and biodiversity, which have a devastating impact on agricultural incomes. To help smallholder farmers become more resilient to the effects of climate change, they need to adopt new practices that will help increase soil health, water retention, and ultimately increase productivity and resilience over the long-run. However, the dissemination of these practices is often limited due to the investment required in terms of manpower and time. Digital tools have the potential to reach remote populations and reach scale, and finding the right combination of digitally-enabled advisory services and face-to-face technical support can lead to transformational change.

Purpose / Project Description:

The Agriculture Systems TSU has developed a digital agriculture strategy outlining a number of potential use cases to improve agriculture outcomes by leveraging digital technologies for impact and scale. One use case focuses on digital-enabled climate resilient agriculture advisory services that can address the challenges of information access for smallholder farmers. This use case requires further investigation, development and refinement to enable TSU to provide clear guidance for programming direction and implementation to identify the unique value addition that Mercy Corps can contribute to this space. The Technology for Development (T4D) and Agriculture Systems TSU teams are now seeking a consultant that can assess the current state of play and best practice for climate resilient agriculture advisory services, and identify opportunities for Mercy Corps to focus its activities in this area.

Consultant Objectives:

Conduct an assessment of existing digital climate resilient agriculture advisory service models to understand their impact, limitations and best practices. Based on that information develop a use case for these advisory services including how to assess potential partnerships for Mercy Corps to invest in.

Advisory services should be:

  • Accessible from any type of digital device and should include considerations of literacy/numeracy, connectivity & electricity access, and hearing or visual disability
  • Interactive and responsive – smallholder farmers should be able to ask questions
  • Potentially include visuals/audio for low literacy populations

The assessment should focus on:

  • Advisory service content: What types of content (including categories, format, frequency of messages etc.,) currently exists and on what platforms, what type of engagement do different services get, how do they measure and adapt their services/messages/engagement. Consultant would be responsible for categorizing the content according to assessment findings.
  • Dissemination channels: What are the dissemination pathways and platforms (internet messaging platforms, radio, apps, etc.) that are being used to share information with target users
  • Source of Information: Who is sharing the information; who are trusted sources of information for which groups of people?
  • Users: Who are the target users by gender, demographic, commodities, etc. and also what communities/groups do they fall in; for example, government, private sector, agricultural extension workers, donors, farmers, entrepreneurs, etc.; what are the information needs, access, and preferences of different groups of users
  • Sustainability and Costing models: What is the sustainability or business model for long term growth and maintenance and is the program an integrated part of a government or other service or a standalone information platform. What are the costing/business models for the services identified?
  • Scale: What is the scale and reach of the existing information service and how many people/target participants are currently accessing and also adopting the practices shared as part of the information service.
  • Impact on change of the services: What is the evidence of behavior change (and is behavior change incorporated into the programmatic/information design & evaluation) and what are the documented changes in outcome or impact as a result of the information being provided
  • Partner and stakeholder mapping: Distinguish between content providers (e.g. Digital Green) and full suite of advisory services providers (content and dissemination e.g. Arifu).

Exact geographical areas are to be determined but will be two geographical groups in East and West Africa e.g. Sahel (Nigeria, Mali, BF and Niger) and East Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda).

The use case and partner assessment should focus on:

  • using the information collected through the assessment, build out a use case for digital climate resilient agriculture advisory services that Mercy Corps could use in its programming including how farmers would use it, what steps would be required to develop and deliver it etc.
  • developing/refine a services/provider assessment tool to help programs identify the right partners in each context.

Consultant Activities:

The Consultant will identify:

  • Identify existing digital agricultural advisory information services and dissemination platforms including benefits and limitations of existing services
  • Identify potential value addition for Mercy Corps based on gaps that remain in services
  • Map existing services to understand who is doing what, and identify potential partners in target geographies (to be determined)
  • Build a use case for climate advisory services (how farmers would use it, what steps would be required to develop and deliver it etc)
  • Develop an assessment tool to guide new understanding of services/providers

Consultant Deliverables:

The Consultant will:

  • Provide a report of findings, including interviews held, literature sources used, potential Mercy Corps partners, and guidance on best practices
  • A use case for delivering digital climate resilient agriculture advisory services, including scoping services and partners

Timeframe / Schedule: 30 days May – June 22

The Consultant will report to:

Director – Agriculture Systems, TSU

The Consultant will work closely with:

T4D (Director and Senior Advisor, Digital Communities), agriculture and other TSU team members, some country team members

Required Experience & Skills:

  • 5-10 years demonstrated experience in a related technical field
  • Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in relevant field (international development, agriculture, technology for development, digital agriculture, etc.) or commensurate work experience
  • Excellent English language writing skills required. Writing samples of original work may be requested.
  • Experience evaluating and scoping digital products and services, and some knowledge of agriculture/climate change preferred.

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.

How to apply

To apply: