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 »
This is part 3 of a three-part series. You can read Part 1 here, and part 2 here.
My first order with the windmill pump manufacturing company was for four windmills. The first windmill would be constructed at Kandahar Airfield as a demonstration project for military commanders and Afghan officials. The other three would go to Uruzgan province with a subsequent order intended for Zabul province. Read more »
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 »