Frequently Asked Questions
The Q&A below is intended to address the most frequently asked questions in a convenient, accessible format. However, the FAQ is only a supplement, not a complete set of instructions. Applicants must carefully read and respond to all requirements listed in the full RFA. Any additional questions may only be submitted through one of the official options described in the RFA and below. Responses to additional questions will be posted here.
- What is USAID?
- What is the Farmer-to-Farmer program?
- What do Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers do?
- Where do you find volunteers for the Farmer-to-Farmer program?
- Who manages the Farmer-to-Farmer program?
- Where can I find more information on how to manage a Farmer-to-Farmer project?
About VEGA & SPSP
- What is SPSP?
- Who is VEGA?
- What are SPSP Small Grants?
- What other activities does VEGA manage under SPSP?
About the F2F Small Grant Award Process
- What is an RFA?
- Who is eligible to apply for a Small Grant in 2017?
- Why is this RFA limited to MSOs?
- Can I submit a proposal for a program that sends non-U.S. volunteers (local volunteer, European, etc.)?
- When can I ask questions? What is the "question and answer period" mentioned in the RFA? Why are there so many rules about asking questions?
- My organization has little to no experience implementing a USAID-funded program. Is that a problem?
- My organization has little to no experience implementing a volunteer-sending program. Is that a problem?
- Do volunteers have to be farmers?
- Can non-agricultural projects receive a Small Grant?
- What is a Fixed Amount Award (FAA)? How does this work and why does VEGA use the FAA?
- Can I apply for more than $150,000? Less than $150,000?
- Can my organization submit more than one application?
- I am a non-U.S. Organization, can I apply for the Farmer-to-Farmer Small Grant?
- What is an implementing organization vs. a host organization? Do I need both to apply?
- The RFA says proposals must, “Align with other USG strategies or programs in the target country.” What does this mean and where do I find this information?
- Annex C refers to F2F eligible countries. Can I propose a project outside of these countries?
- Annex D in the RFA has Required Standard Indicators. Does my organization need to collect all of these indicators? Will VEGA assist?
- How long will the application, review, and award process take?
- What will VEGA’s role be during Phase II: Collaborative Development of Full Application?
- What is leverage? How do I calculate and include it in the budget?
- Can I include overhead costs in the project budget? What is a NICRA and de minimis rate?
- Can I include the cost of materials and supplies for carrying out volunteer recommendations in the project budget? What about equipment for my organization or host organizations?
About Implementing Farmer-to-Farmer
- What type of reporting is done under the Small Grant Program?
- Will I have any assistance in reporting?
What is USAID?
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead U.S. Government agency that works to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. For more information on USAID please visit: https://www.usaid.gov/.
What is the Farmer-to-Farmer program?
The Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program is funded by USAID. F2F promotes sustainable economic growth, food security and agricultural development worldwide through volunteer sending programs. Volunteer technical assistance from US farmers, agribusinesses, cooperatives, and universities helps developing countries improve productivity, access new markets, build local capacity, combat climate change and conserve environmental and natural resources. For more information please visit: http://farmer-to-farmer.org/about.
What do Farmer-to-Farmer volunteers do?
F2F volunteers work with farmers, producer groups, rural businesses and service providers to develop local capacity necessary to increase food production and rural incomes, expand economic growth, and address environmental and natural resource management challenges. This people-to-people exchange promotes international goodwill, understanding of U.S. foreign assistance programs and private involvement in development activities. To see profiles on some F2F Volunteers please visit: http://farmer-to-farmer.org/volunteers/stories.
Where do you find volunteers for the Farmer-to-Farmer program?
There is no “Farmer-to-Farmer” wide volunteer data base. Each program recruits and manages their own volunteers. The SPSP program (more information on what SPSP is below), managed by VEGA, assists with volunteer outreach through a volunteer interest form (http://farmer-to-farmer.org/content/farmer-farmer-volunteer-interest-form) which is shared with all implementers.
Who manages the Farmer-to-Farmer program?
There are seven different organizations managing Farmer-to-Farmer programs in different areas of the world: ACDI/VOCA, Catholic Relief Services, CNFA, Land O’Lakes International Development, Partners of the Americas, Volunteer for Economic Growth Alliance, and Winrock International. These organizations are referred to as implementers, and each receives funding from USAID to manage their F2F programs . For more information on each implementer and where they work please visit: http://farmer-to-farmer.org/implementers.
Where can I find more information on how to manage a Farmer-to-Farmer project?
The Farmer-to-Farmer Program has been around for 30 years and there is a wealth of information. General information on the program can be found on http://farmer-to-farmer.org/.
USAID and F2F implementers have developed a manual for implementers: Managing International Volunteer Programs (2016): A Farmer-to-Farmer Program Manual of Good Practices. The purpose of this manual is to serve as a reference for those who are new to setting up or managing an international volunteer program. The Manual can be found here: http://farmer-to-farmer.org/resources/2016-f2f-good-practices-manual. Additional resources on managing F2F projects is available at http://farmer-to-farmer.org/resources.
About VEGA & SPSP
What is SPSP?
The Special Program Support Project (SPSP) is a project under the Farmer-to-Farmer umbrella that supports innovative approaches to using volunteers in international development. Rather than directly managing F2F activities, VEGA partners with other organizations to fund and support projects that draw from non-traditional sources of volunteers and develop the capacity of organizations that are new to F2F, USAID, or volunteer-sending programs. For more information on SPSP please visit: http://farmer-to-farmer.org/spsp.
Who is VEGA?
Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) manages the Farmer-to-Farmer Special Program Support Project (SPSP). To learn more about VEGA please visit: http://vegaalliance.org/.
What are SPSP Small Grants?
Small Grants are designed to bring in new organizations , new volunteers and innovative programs to F2F. Accordingly, these grants have simpler reporting requirements than other F2F projects, come with built-in support from VEGA, and are limited to $150,000. The 2017 round of Small Grants is limited to Minority Serving Institutions and Organizations.
What other activities does VEGA manage under SPSP?
In addition to providing grant opportunities, SPSP encourages continuous learning by convening organizations that manage F2F programs; developing and sharing resources and tools to implement F2F programs; and conducting outreach and communications on behalf of the F2F Program. To access learning resources, please visit http://farmer-to-farmer.org/resources.
About the F2F Small Grant Award Process
What is an RFA?
Request for Applications. This is the guiding document which outlines application requirements, how to submit applications, and the steps in the application process. The RFA for the 2017 small grants opportunity can be found here.
Who is eligible to apply for a Small Grant in 2017?
Only Minority Serving Organizations (MSOs) may apply to the receive a Small Grant in 2017. For the purposes of the 2017 RFA, MSOs are defined as those that serve or are owned by socially or economically disadvantaged groups. To qualify as an MSO at the time of the application, organizations must demonstrate that they meet at least one of the criteria below:
Be certified as a socially disadvantaged organization under Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act
Have a board of directors or similar governing body with more than 50% membership from the following presumed socially disadvantaged groups as defined under Section 8(a) of the small Business Act :
Asian Pacific Americans
Subcontinent Asian American
- Meet USAID’s definition of a Minority Serving Institution, which include Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)
Why is this RFA limited only to MSOs?
Engaging more MSOs as implementers of Farmer-to-Farmer projects is a goal of SPSP and, in particular Small Grants. Limiting the 2017 competition to only MSOs allows VEGA to target outreach and engagement that will achieve this goal.
Can I submit a proposal for a program which sends non-U.S. volunteers (local volunteer, European, etc.)?
The Farmer-to-Farmer program is intended to send U.S. citizens or permanent residents on volunteer assignments. All F2F programs should be structured around sending U.S. volunteers. If your program wants to send a non-U.S. volunteer, this will require approval by USAID.
When can I ask questions? What is the "question and answer period" mentioned in the RFA? Why are there so many rules about asking questions?
There are three opportunities to ask questions related to the RFA.
Participating in the Bidders’ Conference to be held February 2, 2017. The session will be recorded and made available here.
Submitting questions via email by 6PM EST February 15, 2017 to email@example.com. Written answers to questions submitted by email will be posted here. This is the “question and answer period” mentioned in the RFA.
VEGA limits the opportunities to ask questions In order to maintain transparency and fairness. All questions and answers are posted publicly to ensure that each applicant has access to the same information. VEGA cannot answer questions asked outside of these forums. It is recommended that applicants review all publically posted responses as they develop their proposals.
My organization has little to no experience implementing a USAID-funded program. Is that a problem?
No. Part of VEGA’s role is to assist organizations in navigating USAID rules and regulations and successfully implementing F2F programs. Applicants should demonstrate capacity and staff availability to successfully manage a project with guidance from VEGA.
My organization has little to no experience implementing a volunteer-sending program. Is that a problem?
Volunteer recruitment and management is a large part of a F2F program, but previous experience is not required. Every applicant should include a well-thought-out approach to volunteer recruitment and management in its application.
Do volunteers have to be farmers?
No. Volunteers who are not farmers frequently volunteer in Farmer-to-Farmer programs. Volunteers perform diverse tasks related to agricultural development, including organizational development, business and financial services, and environmental conservation. Frequently, volunteers come from educational institutions, government, cooperatives/associations, and nonprofit organizations.
F2F only supports agricultural development.Therefore, all proposed projects should be clearly aligned to the agricultural sector.
A Fixed Amount Award (FAA) is a type of agreement offered by USAID that simplifies financial reporting requirements by linking fixed payment amounts to designated project milestones. If your organization is invited to submit a full application, VEGA will work with your organization to develop these milestones based on project objectives. Once a milestone is completed and verified, the organization receives the fixed payment amount.
VEGA uses the FAA so organizations can focus on program management and implementation, rather than financial reporting. However, VEGA will assess each applicant to ensure that those who receive funds have the capacity and systems to responsibly manage funds.
I am a non-U.S. Organization, can I apply for the Farmer-to-Farmer Small Grant?
No, only U.S. Organizations can receive a Small Grant. However, if you are a non-U.S. Organization you can partner with a U.S. Organization to apply for a program. In this circumstance, the U.S. Organization would submit the application and sign/be held to the award contract.
What is an implementing organization vs. a host organization? Do I need both to apply?
An implementing organization is the U.S.-based organization that will receive funds from VEGA and manage the program. The implementer signs the Award (agreement) with VEGA and is legally responsible for meeting the terms and conditions described in that agreement.
Host organizations are located in the country being assisted and receive volunteer technical assistance. Hosts may be any organizations related to agricultural development, including cooperatives, associations, businesses, universities, government agencies, or community groups.
The RFA says proposals must, “Align with other USG strategies or programs in the target country.” What does this mean and where do I find this information?
The United State Government has development strategies for each country and/or region. These can be found at https://www.usaid.gov/results-and-data/planning. Proposed activities should fit within the broad USG priorities and strategies outlined in the development strategy of the country in which your organization is proposing to work.
Annex D in the RFA has Required Standard Indicators. Does my organization need to collect all of these indicators? Will VEGA assist?
Yes, all small grant recipients are required to collect and maintain records on the indicators highlighted in yellow in Annex D. Yes, VEGA will provide training on data collection and reporting.
How long will the application, review, and award process take?
The RFA was released on January 23, 2017 and VEGA anticipates signing awards in May. Applicants have six weeks from the release of the RFA to prepare and submit Concept Papers. Applicants invited to participate in the Full Application phase will be informed on March 20 and have until May 5, 2017 to create and submit their Full Application. Specific deadlines are listed below:
Date of RFA Release: January 23, 2017
Due Date for Concept Papers: 6 PM EST March 6, 2017
Concept Papers Selected for Advancement to Full Application Phase: March 20, 2017
Due Date for Full Applications: 6 PM EST May 5, 2017
What will VEGA’s role be during Phase II: Collaborative Development Of Full Application?
VEGA will collaborate with each Applicant who is invited to submit a Full Application. This collaboration is intended to ensure that Applicants understand feedback from the Evaluation Committee and Full Application requirements. Forms of collaboration are expected to include:
Answering questions about Full Application requirements described in Section III
Reviewing and commenting on draft Full Application materials
Advising on Farmer-to-Farmer best practices and how to address weaknesses, deficiencies, and uncertainties identified by the Evaluation Committee
Interpreting USAID rules and regulations.
Although VEGA will provide guidance, feedback, and comments, Applicants are solely responsible for the final content of their Full Applications. VEGA will NOT create or heavily edit Application documents.
What is leverage? How do I calculate and include it in the budget?
Leverage is cash or in-kind contributions to the project that come from sources other than USAID/VEGA. The value of the time donated by volunteers is estimated at $470 per day for all F2F programs. Applicants should calculate the value of volunteer time and include it in their budget proposals. Applicants may also include other leverage, such as contributions they or their local partners intend to make to the project. Include a separate line in the budget for each type of leverage.
Can I include overhead costs in the project budget? What is a NICRA and de minimis rate?
Overhead costs (ongoing expenses such as rent, utilities, and insurance that are not directly related to program implementation) can be included in the project budget. There are three main strategies that applicants can use:
Apply the applicant’s USAID Negotiated Indirect Cost Rate Agreement (NICRA): If your organization has an approved and up-to-date NICRA from USAID, include the agreed percentages as applicable in the budget proposal and include the NICRA letter as an attachment.
Apply the federal de minimis rate: Organizations that have never received a NICRA may budget 10% of modified total direct costs to cover overhead expenses. Modified total direct cost means all direct salaries and wages, applicable fringe benefits, materials and supplies, service, travel, and up to the first $25,000 of each subaward. Any costs covered by your organization within the 10% de minimis may not be budgeted as direct costs.
List each cost in the budget and provide a reasonable estimate and detailed justification of that estimate in the budget narrative.
VEGA recommends that organizations without a NICRA accept the de minimis rate rather than attempting to list all overhead charges separately, as overhead can be difficult and burdensome to estimate and document.
Can I include the cost of materials and supplies for carrying out volunteer recommendations in the project budget? What about equipment for my organization or host organizations?
F2F funds are intended for fielding and supporting volunteers only. While supplies necessary for completing volunteer assignments can be included, F2F encourages host contributions to cover such expenses, when necessary. Because of the short duration of the grant, small grant funds cannot be used for capital expenditures such as durable goods and other large equipment purchases which have a shelf life more than one year and/or an acquisition cost exceeding $5,000.
About Implementing Farmer-to-Farmer
Will I have any assistance in reporting?
VEGA will not write any reports, but will carefully review each report and provide feedback. Grantees are expected to be responsive to VEGA feedback and submit revised reports accordingly.