Forward Operating Base Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan – Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began building up its corps of civilian agricultural experts from 11 in 2009 to 60 in 2010, USDA’s focus in Afghanistan has shifted from small-scale development to large-scale capacity building. Greater resources has allowed USDA and our U.S. government partners to help build and train a team of Afghan agricultural extension workers that bring better tools and technologies to farmers in rural areas – much like our extension service in the United States. In southeast Afghanistan, in a volatile province called Paktika, six teams of Afghan agricultural trainers and extension workers are leading a variety of low-cost projects that are uniting communities and growing agricultural production and diversity. Read more »
This is part 2 of a three-part series. Read Part 1 here. Stay tuned for Part 3 later in the week.
To try to make contact with the pump manufacturer in Pakistan, I went back to Sandy, who suggested that I e-mail my questions to him. He would print my e-mail and fax it to the man in Pakistan, who would get his brother-in-law to translate it and fax back the answers, which Sandy would then put in an e-mail back to me. Read more »
This story has three parts. Stay tuned for Parts 2 and 3 later in the week.
When I arrived in Afghanistan as a USDA Agriculture Advisor in 2005, I was overwhelmed with what I found: an arid climate, agriculture being practiced in much the same way that it had been for thousands of years and corresponding agriculture technology. The direction that I had been given was: Find out what needs to be done, and get something on the ground. Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi during their visit to the Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm in Colo, IA, on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.
The little farming town of Colo sits just east of Ames, Iowa, in the central part of the state. It’s harvest season here. Farm families are trading shifts in their combines to harvest their crops before winter. Rows of soybean and corn stubble disappear into the yellow and brown rolling hills. Folks are hard at work, but some pause and begin to collect at Keith and Sue McKinney’s farm when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack arrives, followed by Pakistani Agriculture Minister Nazar Muhammad Gondal and Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi. Secretary Vilsack invited Ministers Gondal and Rahimi to be his guests in Des Moines at the World Food Prize, and their meeting all together at the Colo farm was their first since May 2009 in Washington. Still, folks were standing around asking: What does Colo have to do with Afghanistan and Pakistan? But, as Secretary Vilsack, the McKinney family and faculty from Iowa State University explained, Colo could be a model not only for Afghanistan and Pakistan, but developing agricultural economies around the world. Read more »
USDA agricultural advisors and temporary duty agricultural representatives in Afghanistan. From left: Jon Fripp, Bruce Dubee, Feridoon Mehdizadegan, Eileen Thacker, Ginger Murphy, and Iraj Motazedian.
Earlier this year, I volunteered to go on a month-long work detail to Afghanistan. I volunteered because the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service put out a call for a job I knew I could do, but I had no idea what to expect. Read more »
Ryan Brewster served as an agricultural expert in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
This morning at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recognized the efforts of more than 20 USDA employees who served as civilian agricultural experts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The agricultural experts were part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to provide civilian assistance abroad to help promote long-term economic development.
One of those agricultural experts, Ryan Brewster, served for nearly three years in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are his recollections: Read more »