National Specialist on Soil Fertility and Management

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Application deadline 2 months ago: Friday 9 Sep 2022 at 21:59 UTC

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Organizational Setting

Savannakhet Province has the highest number of agricultural households and agriculture is the main productive sector in the province, but the economic trends in Savannakhet indicate a growing share of revenue generated from the industry and services sectors in comparison to agriculture. In the province, traditional subsistence agriculture is declining while agriculture as an industry is growing. Rice is still central to household food security, but a growing number of farmers are getting involved in the cultivation of commercial crops such as maize, sugarcane, cassava, rubber, and coffee. Savannakhet is one of the provinces where there has been an increase in area under cultivation of the commercial crops. The crops meet both domestic and international demands.

Agriculture in Lao PDR is mostly rainfed. A high intensity of natural disasters can therefore increase the vulnerability of rural farmers because of the high degree of poverty in these areas. For smallholder agriculture that is primarily dependent on rainfed rice crops, there are number of alternatives suggested including improved rice varieties that use less water and that are more resistant to higher temperatures, salinity, droughts, and floods as a mechanism for buffering food security against climate risks and water shortages. The other critical limiting factor is low inherent soil fertility, particularly low soil nitrogen and phosphorus levels. The predominant lowland rice soils occupying more than 50% of the rice lands are in the Acrisols soils group, which are characterized by highly weathered soils with a low content of primary minerals, and a low base saturation (<50%).

To enhance the resilience to climate risks and sustainable and efficient agriculture production, the potential strategies include changing cropping patterns, adopting integrated and sustainable soil management and conservation agriculture, developing and implementing new water-saving techniques, and improving water harvesting, management and flood control. With the knowledge and results obtained from the project activities, drafting a strategy for sustainable soil and water resources management under the changing production and climate environment will be supported.

Therefore, the Government of Lao PDR has requested FAO to provide technical support on soil improvement and sustainable water harvesting. The main objectives of this project are to strengthen farmers capacity in sustainably managing soil and water resources and improve productivity and resilience to drought through the processes of assessing and understanding the status and distribution of water availability, soil fertility, farmer’s crop management practices and yield and identifying constraints and testing and demonstrating possible solution options to increase productivity of rainfed lowland agriculture in Savannakhet province.

Reporting Lines

Under the direct supervision of the FAO Representative in Lao PDR, in close collaboration with project team, and the Lead Technical Officer (LTO) at FAO’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

Technical Focus

The National specialist will undertake the following activities to provide technical and functional support to the project “Technical support on soil improvement and sustainable water harvesting in Savannakhet Province” (TCP/LAO/3804).

Tasks and responsibilities

  • In close coordination with the project team, LTO, AFAOR, support the national project team to assess and analyse the current agriculture systems and practices.
  • Identify the constraints and challenges and come up with possible ecosystem-based technical options to improve soil and health for sustainable production and conservation as well as enhance resilience to climatic stress, particularly drought and floods.
  • Collaborate with an international consultant and participatory technical reviews and evaluation of the current soil and water management systems and recommendations for climate-resilient and ecosystem-based soil and water management systems.
  • Support institutional capacity enhancement for sustainable soil and water management. Review the existing agriculture production and soil and water conservation and management guidelines, policies, technical manuals, etc. at national, provincial, and local levels and assess its linkages to ecosystem-based agriculture production systems and climate-related risks and adaptation.
  • Formulate a strategy for sustainable soil and water resources conservation and management based on the information collected and results obtained from the field experiment and demonstration, compile good practices and approaches for improved production, conservation, and climate resilience.
  • Identified practices and approaches to be discussed, verified, and a strategy for improving soil fertility and sustainable water management.
  • Prepare consultation workshop and report the results;
  • Presenting the results of conducting a demonstration, finding, and finalizing report for LTO and FAO;
  • Perform other related duties when required under the project;


Minimum Requirements

  • University degree in soil science, agronomy, agriculture.
  • Five years of relevant experience in soil fertility management, soil conservation, an experiment in agriculture.
  • Working knowledge of English.
  • Nationality of Lao or resident in the country with a regular work permit.

FAO Core Competencies

  • Results Focus
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Building Effective Relationships
  • Knowledge Sharing and Continuous Improvement

Technical/Functional Skills

  • Experience in soil and water resources conservation and management.
  • Experiences in technical reviews and evaluation techniques and recommendations for climate-resilient and ecosystem-based soil and water management systems would be a strong asset.
  • Good communication skills and teamwork, be able to work with people in rural areas
  • Experience to work with agriculture production groups in rural areas, technical reporting, and implementation of agriculture production for commercialization programs;
  • Good analytical and writing skills.
  • Good understanding of the Lao Agriculture Context.
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