This year, USDA helped create and is funding a standardized training course for individuals going to Afghanistan to support agricultural revitalization efforts.
The training, called Agricultural Development for Afghanistan Pre-deployment Training (ADAPT), was developed with a consortium of U.S. universities. It’s designed to meet the needs of all personnel—both military and civilian –who are supporting the U.S. government’s agricultural strategy in Afghanistan.
For years, a number of U.S. government agencies have sent personnel to Afghanistan to support agricultural revitalization. All of these agencies offered their own version of pre-deployment training. In early 2011, USDA, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the U.S. Central Command, the National Guard Bureau and the Marine Corps reviewed the agricultural training courses from 16 universities.
Inconsistencies were found in the breadth and depth of the curriculum. While most training was technically focused, it did not adequately address the cultural and developing-market factors in Afghanistan. There was a clear need for standardized, centralized training available to everyone supporting the U.S. government’s agricultural strategy in Afghanistan. That need was addressed with the development of ADAPT.
The first five-day ADAPT training session was held in Fresno, Calif. last month and a second session was held in San Luis Obispo, Calif. from December 12-16. Each course consists of approximately 30 participants, including USDA employees, service members from the National Guard and Marine and Army Civil Affairs units, as well as other civilians.
Through a combination of classroom curriculum and hands-on exercises, ADAPT trainees receive an extensive overview of the Afghan agricultural environment and learn about the U.S. government’s commitment to help strengthen Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) so it can better serve Afghan farmers.
During the course, trainees take part in a wide range of lessons including food security, agricultural technology, animal and plant health, irrigation and water management, crop harvest, food safety, agricultural extension, management skills and more. Instructors include USDA agricultural experts and university professors, with presentations given by Afghan nationals and U.S. military and civilian personnel who have spent time working in Afghanistan’s agricultural environment. ADAPT is designed to be versatile enough that it benefits all skill levels, ranging from experts who have spent a career working on farms to those who will be working on agricultural issues for the first time
So far, feedback from participants has been positive and participating agencies will continue to perfect the curriculum to ensure everyone who goes to Afghanistan in support of agricultural revitalization is as prepared as possible. USDA has already scheduled 10 ADAPT courses for 2012 and plans for additional courses to be offered through the end of September 2013.
In a country where 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for their economic livelihood, agricultural revitalization is a major factor that will help achieve overall stability and bring about a brighter future for all Afghans.
To learn more about USDA’s efforts in Afghanistan, visit our website.