Title: Research Contractor, CAFF’s Technology Hub
Location: Fresno, Madera, Merced, Kings, and Tulare counties
Compensation: $40,000 – $54,000 total project budget (fixed rate)
Contract Duration: October 2023 to May 2024
Reports to: Tech Hub Advisor
Start Date: October 15, 2023
The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) is a membership organization guided by a board of directors that includes family farmers and others who are passionate about food, farming, and the environment. CAFF’s mission is to build sustainable food and farming systems through policy advocacy and on-the-ground programs that create more resilient family farms, communities, and ecosystems. CAFF works on-the-ground with family farmers to assist them with climate smart farming, food safety plans, and introductions to new markets. In 2023, CAFF enters its 45th year as the leading organization in California advocating for sustainable food and farming systems. See http://www.caff.org for more information.
The Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) and their Small Farm Technology Hub is pleased to announce this Request for Proposals (RFP) to seek qualified contractors for a comprehensive needs assessment project aimed at advancing technology adoption among small-scale farmers within the five counties encompassed by the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) Initiative: Fresno, Merced, Madera, Kings, and Tulare.
The Small Farm Technology Hub at CAFF will house this assessment and aims to use it as a guiding document to inform how their services can best support farmers with identifying appropriate technologies for their businesses. CAFF’s primary constituents are family farmers, defined as:
- Small to mid scale sized family farmers (Family Farmer defined as independent people or farmer cooperatives who derive a portion of their livelihood from the land and are involved in day-to-day farm operations)
- Farmers who are implementing or aspiring to implement ecological/sustainable farming practices
- Historically disadvantaged farmers (particularly farmers of color, limited resource, LGBTQI+, veteran, and women farmers)
- Farmers committed to providing for the communities they live and grow in (community based/rooted in community)
This research will support CAFF’s vision for racial equity and provide additional demographics & business details on the family farmers CAFF aims to support within the San Joaquin Valley. We believe in a world where all farmers, communities and ecosystems are thriving, dignified and respected, cultivating a food system that centers those farmers who are currently most marginalized and benefitting all. Recognizing historical oppression and current inequities experienced by Black, Indigenous and People of Color in agriculture, we strive to become an organization that reflects the shared power and leadership of all racial and cultural groups that make up the rich fabric of California farming. We work for an equitable and just food system that has overcome racism and all other forms of oppression. We aim for this research project to center farmers most impacted by the racial injustices experienced in this region.
As a part of the Fresno – Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) Initiative, this comprehensive needs assessment project seeks to bridge the gap between technology and agriculture by understanding the unique requirements and obstacles faced by small-scale farmers in Central Valley’s Fresno, Madera, Merced, Kings, and Tulare counties (F3 counties).
The assessment will encompass critical components, including on-farm demonstrations, surveys, listening sessions, and technology trials, all geared towards integrating the voice and insights of small-scale farmers in the region. The overall objective of the needs assessment is to drive appropriate technology development & access to serve small-scale farmers needs, and ultimately empowering small-scale farmers to address challenges related to technology, spanning marketing & distribution, pest and weed management, irrigation, healthy soil, climate change mitigation and more.
The needs assessment will culminate in the development of a comprehensive report outlining key findings, challenges, and practical recommendations to promote technology adoption and address identified gaps.
The development of the needs assessment is a product of a collaborative effort between CAFF and the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) in the framework of the Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) Initiative, and the insights derived from this project will shape the work of the Small Farm Tech Innovation Alliance (SFTIA) and key partners, like technology developers working in the F3 Innovate workgroup of the F3 Initiative.
The Small Farm Tech Innovation Alliance has an advisory committee with partners from different organizations, including CAFF and UC ANR, and on-going collaboration during the development of this project with these key partners is expected.
The selected contractor will play an integral role in the comprehensive needs assessment, fulfilling the following key responsibilities:
- Technology Landscape Review: Conduct an extensive review of technology solutions relevant to the needs of small-scale farmers in the F3 counties, identify specific technologies that address current challenges and assess the gap between current practices and potential technological solutions.
- Gap Analysis: Evaluate the present state of technology adoption and identify gaps between farmers’ needs and available solutions through the development of a survey and other appropriate activities to collect the insights of, at least, 150 growers in the F3 counties. The gap analysis should include both quantitative data points and qualitative supporting analysis.
- Data Analysis and Synthesis: Analyze and synthesize data gathered, deriving actionable insights and identifying common themes and challenges.
- Report: Develop a comprehensive report that as a minimum addresses the following:
- Methodology and Data Collection, including insight into the data collection process, sampling methods and any challenges faced.
- Current State Assessment.
- Needs and Gap Analysis.
- Analysis of barriers preventing technology adoption and the factors that can enable successful adoption (such as education, training, infrastructure)
- Recommendations for advancing technology among small-scale farmers.
- Visualizations and infographics of key findings aimed at quickly grasping the assessment’s outcomes.
- Reference material: A list of references, data sources and resources consulted during the assessment process.
Interested contractors are invited to submit detailed proposals that include the following components:
- Expertise: Showcase the qualifications, experience and expertise in agriculture, technology adoption, and research. CAFF has a preference for hiring a contractor with additional expertise in digital technologies, including e-commerce platforms, and fluency in Spanish. The ability to provide translation and interpretation services during the project’s development phase is critical. Proposals from contractors meeting these preferences are encouraged. Budget will be allocated to these activities if the contractor cannot fulfill them.
- Methodology and Approach: Provide an in-depth outline of the methodology and approach to be employed for data gathering and analysis, technology landscape review, and gap analysis. The approach must include CAFF’s vision on racial equity and the voice of its primary constituents.
- Project Timeline: Present a well-structured timeline that highlights milestones, activities, and deliverables, that includes the following activities:
- Initial meeting with the Small Farm Tech Innovation Alliance (SFTIA) advisory committee to set deliverables and foster collaboration with other key partners of the F3 Initiative
- Development of a farmer survey, to be presented on November 8th, 2023 at CAFF’s Small Farm Tech Demo Day in Parlier.
- Organize outreach activities (listening sessions, focus groups, farm visits, or other appropriate activities) to gather feedback from at least 150 growers in the F3 region, between November 2023 and February 2024.
- Mid-project re-assessment check to report on progress and collect feedback
- Presentation of findings at CAFF’s Small Farm Tech Expo in early March 2024.
- Goal of having a report published by June 1, 2024 (Review period and design to take place April – May 2024).
4. Budget: Present a transparent and itemized budget that comprehensively covers all anticipated costs, including research, travel, materials, and other related expenses.
5. CAFF has a separate budget of $3,800 to provide stipends to ~150 farmers involved in activities related to this project that they’ll be managing.
6. References: Include references from previous projects or clients that demonstrate the contractor’s proficiency in data analysis, technology assessment, and providing actionable recommendations.
Proposals will be assessed based on the following criteria:
- Demonstrated expertise in data analysis, technology assessment, and generating actionable recommendations within agricultural contexts.
- Clarity and feasibility of the proposed methodology, especially in the context of data analysis and technology landscape review.
- Relevance of prior experience and references to the project’s requirements.
- Budget transparency, expense justification, and alignment with the project scope.
- Familiarity with the San Joaquin Valley, preferably with the agricultural sector, and researcher’s ability to spend time in the five county region.
The project is scheduled to commence on October 15th, 2023, and should be concluded by May 2024. We are excited to receive proposals from contractors who share our commitment to advancing technology adoption among small-scale farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.
Proposals must be submitted electronically to Elizabeth Vaughan at evaughan(at)caff.org no later than September 30th, 2023. We will give priority to the submissions received before September 15th. For any inquiries or clarifications regarding this RFP, kindly direct communication to the same email address.