Soil Scientist

Suva, Fiji

  • Suva-based position (Fiji)
  • Attractive expatriate package
  • Join the principal development organisation in the Pacific region



The Pacific Community (SPC) is the principal scientific and technical organisation in the Pacific region, supporting development since 1947. We are an international development organisation owned and governed by our 27 country and territory members. In pursuit of sustainable development to benefit Pacific people, our organisation works across more than 25 sectors. We are known for our knowledge and innovation in such areas as fisheries science, public health, geoscience, and conservation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The Land Resources Division (LRD) provides advice, technical assistance, research and training support to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) on all aspects of agriculture and forestry. This includes plant protection, conservation, plant genetic resources, animal health and production, agroforestry, biosecurity and trade facilitation, and sustainable systems for agriculture, forestry and land management. This work has two objectives: improved food and nutritional security, and resilient communities. The division’s services are provided through seven technical/thematic teams: Animal Health and Production; Plant Health; Biosecurity and Trade Facilitation; Forest and Agriculture Diversification; Crop Production and Extension; Genetic Resources; and Forests and Trees.

The role – Soil Scientist will provide scientific/technical advice to the Pacific Island countries and territories on soil health and soil management for both atoll and volcanic farming systems. The position holder will also work closely with the Sustainable Agriculture Programme and the Research and Development Advisor and other LRD Pillars in ensuring soil health activities are integrated across programmes.

The key responsibilities of the role include:

Coordination and Partnerships

  • Establish the governance and operational structure Pacific Soil Partnership (PSP) and provide support for ongoing engagement and dialogue amongst members.
  • Provide strategic advice to LRD and the PICTs on sustainable soil management strategies for the PICTs.
  • Assessment of specific research priorities and barriers to sustainable soil management in countries and formulate most appropriate research strategies and activities.
  • Identify and mobilize partners to support implementation of soil improvement in the region.

Scientific and Technical Advice

  • Lead the planning, design, establishment, maintenance, analysis and monitoring of research experiments and trials in PICTs.
  • Provide scientific and technical support on the development of specific protocols for different soil types.
  • Provide technical advice on the responses of crops to soil management practices such as fertilization, crop rotation, compost, organic, cover crops, and waste control.
  • Provide technical support on the biological, chemical and physical properties of soil types and their spatial and variability across different landscapes.

Capacity building of stakeholders

  • Assess, identify and develop priority training programmes related to soil health management in countries.
  • Execute training needs to support successful implementation of soil/crop improvement in countries.
  • Provide trainings in crop production, agronomy and integrate soil science knowledge into aspects of land management practices.
  • Actively coach, mentor and develop capacity of internal personnel and stakeholders on soil management.

Monitoring and reporting

  • Monitor, evaluate and report on the performance of soil health research activities and contribute to scientific research papers and non-scientific reports to support programming internally and externally.
  • Support ongoing soil information management to support sustainable soil management and farming systems in the pacific region.
  • Liaising with key stakeholder and building relationships/networks to support scaling of research results.
  • Other duties as required from time to time.

For a more detailed account of the key responsibilities, please refer to the online job description.


Key selection criteria


  • A master’s degree in soil science or agronomy

Technical expertise

  • At least 10 years of experience in a similar role
  • Has working knowledge of the agriculture soils in the Pacific
  • Knowledge of field plot design, experimental procedure and analysis and interpretation of research results
  • Be able to identify and diagnose field-plant-soil causal problems and appropriate symptoms
  • Coordinating and negotiation skills
  • Analytical and problem solver
  • Report writing, planning and organizing
  • Research and analysis with in-depth knowledge in the agriculture sector
  • Attention to detail and ability to meet deadlines without supervision
  • Communication and responsiveness to needs of stakeholders
  • Advocacy with demonstrated initiative and ability to think laterally to identify innovative solutions

Language skills

  • Excellent English communication skills (oral and written)

Interpersonal skills and cultural awareness

  • Ability to work in a multicultural, inclusive and equitable environment


Salary, terms and conditions

Contract Duration 3 years – subject to renewal depending on funding and performance.

Remuneration – The Soil Scientist is a Band 11 position in SPC’s 2023 salary scale, with a starting salary range of 3,091‒3,864 SDR (special drawing rights) per month, which currently converts to approximately FJD 9,118–11,397 (USD 4,142–5,177; EUR 3,923–4,904). An offer of appointment for an initial contract will normally be made in the lower half of this range, with due consideration given to experience and qualifications. Progression within the salary scale will be based on annual performance reviews. Remuneration of expatriate SPC staff members is not subject to income tax in Fiji; Fiji nationals employed by SPC in Fiji will be subject to income tax.

Benefits for international employees based in Fiji – SPC provides a housing allowance of FJD 1,350–3,000 per month. Establishment and repatriation grant, removal expenses, airfares, home leave travel, health and life and disability insurances and education allowances are available for eligible employees and their eligible dependents. Employees are entitled to 25 working days of annual leave per annum and other types of leave, and access to SPC’s Provident Fund (contributing 8% of salary, to which SPC adds a matching contribution).

Languages – SPC’s working languages are English and French.

Recruitment principles – SPC’s recruitment is based on merit and fairness, and candidates are competing in a selection process that is fair, transparent and non-discriminatory. SPC is an equal-opportunity employer, and is committed to cultural and gender diversity, including bilingualism, and will seek to attract and appoint candidates who respect these values. Due attention is given to gender equity and the maintenance of strong representation from Pacific Island professionals. If two interviewed candidates are ranked equal by the selection panel, preference will be given to the Pacific Islander. Applicants will be assured of complete confidentiality in line with SPC’s Privacy Policy.


Application procedure

Closing Date: 23 June 2023 at 11:59pm (Fiji time)

Job Reference: MC000017

Applicants must apply online at

Hard copies of applications will not be accepted.

For your application to be considered, you must provide us with:

  • an updated resume with contact details for three professional referees
  • a cover letter detailing your skills, experience and interest in this position
  • responses to all screening questions

Your application will be considered incomplete and will not be reviewed at shortlisting stage if all the above documents are not provided. Applicants should not attach copies of qualifications or letters of reference. Please ensure your documents are in Microsoft Word or Adobe PDF format.

For international staff in Fiji, only one foreign national per family can be employed with an entity operating in Fiji at any one given time. SPC may assist on a case-by-case basis with submissions to Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their consideration and final approval. SPC cannot and does not make any guarantee whatsoever of approval for such applications to Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs and where an application is approved, the spouse or partner will subject to such terms and conditions as may be set from time to time by the Ministry.

SPC does not charge a fee to consider your application and will never ask for your banking or financial information during the recruitment process.

Screening Questions (maximum of 2,000 characters per question):

  1. Soil health is a vital resource in sustaining agriculture production in small island countries with fragile natural resources. Evidence has shown that soil health is declining in most Pacific Island Countries. Please describe the key problems/challenges to soil health and what operational strategies would be required to improve soil health in the Pacific region?
  2. Knowledge on agronomy is important to ensure that soil technologies researched and developed are relevant to the different farming systems in the Pacific region. Please explain how you would approach the introduction of various crops to a new environment where there was no prior information on soil fertility, crop growth performance history and adaptation records?
  3. A holistic approach to soil management is necessary for sustainable agriculture production in the region. Please explain how you would go about operationalising a holistic approach to sustainable soil management practices and ensuring adoption of soil technologies? What would be your strategy to take improved soil management results to scale in the Pacific region?

Position Description

Type: Contract - International

Category: Land & Resources Management

Reference ID: MC000017

Date Posted: 25/05/2023