On January 25, 2011, I arrived in Afghanistan to begin a one-year assignment helping Afghans revitalize thier agricultural sector through a variety of activities aimed to strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government, rebuild agricultural markets, and improve management of natural resources. USDA employees like me have worked in Afghanistan since 2003, helping to stabilize the country as it makes strides to become democratic and economically viable nation.
I also served a six-month assignment in Afghanistan during 2004 – 2005, and was drawn back for a second tour for a variety of reasons: the unique nature of the work; complexity of the civilian, military and Afghan participants; intrigue of working in an ongoing conflict environment; and the overall fascination of working with so many interesting people and situations in an historic initiative. Read more »
Maggie Rhodes, pictured in Afghanistan, has been a USDA agricultural advisor there since December 2009.”
For the last 26 years, I have proudly worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 2009, I made a life- and career-altering decision to leave my job as the team leader in Program Allocations and Management Support with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in Washington D.C. and volunteered to help support USDA’s efforts in Afghanistan. Read more »
Foresters from the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Nebraska Forest Service helped prepare the Nebraska Air and Army Guard’s Agriculture Development Team (ADT) for an 11-month deployment to Afghanistan.
The ADT will deploy to Afghanistan from July 2011 to May 2012 and work with local government, university and non-governmental organization personnel to improve agriculture and forestry in the war-torn country. Read more »
In honor of Arbor Day, I helped plant a tree at USDA’s National Arboretum on Friday morning, April 29. What made this unique from the thousands of similar tree plantings taking place nationwide today is that I was joined by a visiting delegation of Afghan agricultural experts.
The delegation included agricultural leaders from Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province who are part of an agricultural exchange program hosted by the National Guard Bureau’s Texas Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) IV. Washington, D.C., is the first stop on a nearly two-week trip to the United States, which will include training and presentations by some of this country’s premier agricultural experts. Read more »
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 »