General David Petraeus, ISAF Commander, and Haji Habibi, Director General for the Greenery Department, water a newly planted tree during a ceremony in honor of Nowruz at the Bi Bi Mahro Park on Wazir Akbar Khan Hill in Kabul, Afghanistan. (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)
Kabul, Afghanistan probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind upon hearing the phrase “garden city.” But, surprising as it may be, that was the long-held moniker of a city once famous for advanced irrigation systems and vast orchards. Today, the city is closer to regaining that past image of vitality thanks to a cooperative effort to shore up its natural resources. Read more »
Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan is greeted by children from the Ghazni City Orphanage
Last week, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry and the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team visited the Ghazni City orphanage to dedicate playground equipment donated by the family and friends of Steven “Tom” Stefani. Stefani was a U.S. Forest Service employee who went to Afghanistan in March 2007 to work as a USDA agricultural expert to a provincial reconstruction team in the Ghazni. His life was cut short by a roadside explosion Oct. 4 of that same year. Read more »
A view of the Port of Norfolk from the Virginia Port Authority’s (VPA) tenth-floor conference room. The soy flour is expected to leave the port on Dec. 23 and arrive in Afghanistan by Feb. 1.
As we approached Norfolk, Va. yesterday, we could see the big seaport cranes in the distance, hovering over neat stacks of multicolored containers. Hulking cargo ships moved in and out of the port, one of the East Coast’s busiest, collecting and carrying U.S. products to millions of consumers overseas. Truck drivers, longshoremen, port police – so many careers make up a bustling port city. Somewhere in this flurry was the container we had come to see. We found it at the facilities of ARREFF, just beyond the water’s reach in the town of Portsmouth. ARREFF is a “transloader,” a business that packs, repacks and helps to transfer U.S. products destined for foreign markets. Read more »
When you hear about two employees dedicating their time to an important issue such as this one, the least one can do is acknowledge the level of commitment and importance of the roles they play for the agency and USDA.
Dr. Jaroslaw Fabis, a Supervisory Veterinary Medical Officer in Raleigh, North Carolina, volunteered in Maysan, a town near the Iranian border, from February to October 2009. Dr. Fabis joined the American Embassy in Iraq as an agriculture advisor for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) to contribute to the goal of stability and development of the Iraqi agricultural community. Part of the U.S. mission in Iraq is to strengthen this particular sector of the community to facilitate their economic autonomy and Dr. Fabis took time out of his regular duties to accomplish just that. As the first veterinarian to visit Maysan, Dr. Fabis worked closely with the Maysan Veterinary Hospital to improve livestock health and productivity. He also trained 125 veterinarians and veterinary technicians and renovated the Amara City slaughterhouse. For his efforts, Dr. Fabis received letters of appreciation from the U.S. Embassy Agriculture Counselor, the Provincial Directory of Veterinary Hospital and Congressman Joseph Courtney of the Armed Services Committee. FSIS is extremely proud of his dedication, commitment and sacrifice in support of our country, the military and civilian operations in Iraq. Read more »
Gary Soiseth is a USDA agricultural expert in Afghanistan’s Wardak province. One of Gary’s main goals is to help the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) reach its people with agricultural services and support. Read more »
Members of the Missouri ADT survey the Kabul River with USDA’s Tom Vermeersch.
Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields, Nangarhar, Afghanistan – My new assignment is in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province near Jalalabad, the second largest population center in Afghanistan, along the volatile Afghanistan-Pakistan border. In August, I left Camp Blessing in Kunar province, just north of Jalalabad, to assist here. My new home is Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields in Nangarhar, also home to the Nangarhar provincial reconstruction team (PRT) and Behsud District Support Team. Part of the base is an old Soviet motel built several decades, in which I share a room with an Army medic, a great guy whom I’ve taught a few songs on the guitar. A total of nine civilians from three agencies work here (State, U.S. Agency for International Development, and USDA). In addition, the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) of the U.S. Army National Guard also calls Finley-Shields home. In the past eight weeks, I’ve enjoyed being part of this larger team. The ADT allows us civilians to get off base more and interact directly with Afghan farmers and extension agents. I also noticed how this focused, comprehensive U.S. effort here in Nangarhar is instilling greater confidence in the Afghan people. Read more »