Afghans Take Over Training Once Provided by ADTs
A key focus of ADT missions in Afghanistan was to provide agricultural training to Afghans so that they could then train their fellow Afghans. As U.S. forces draw down, Afghans are stepping in to take on roles once provided by U.S. forces. This is also evident in the ADT missions. On 16 March 2013, members of Georgia ADT III attended a veterinary training seminar in Helmand Province but whereas in past year's ADT veterinarians would have provided the training to Afghans, this time the training was conducted by an Afghan veterinarian. Georgia ADT III's veterinary team was on hand to provide assistance if necessary and they also provided the local Afghan veterinarian with educational materials to use in his training session.
This particular training event focused on parasite management. Internal parasites can seriously impact Afghan farmers because if left untreated, parasites can lead to unhealthy livestock herds, which reduces the market value of livestock for farmers and negatively impacts the food supply in Afghanistan. Over the past years, ADT veterinarians have worked to educate Afghans on how to identify, treat and, more importantly, prevent internal parasites. In many cases, ADTs conducted such things as deworming clinics. But ADT veterinarians have also focused on providing information on better livestock care methods to Afghan veterinarians and those local veterinarians are now taking that knowledge and sharing it with local farmers.
The ultimate goal of this effort by ADTs is to leave behind local Afghan veterinarians who have the knowledge to assist local farmers by providing quality veterinary care for livestock and information to farmers so that they can better manage the health of their livestock herds.
ADT Efforts Continue to Focus on Educating Afghan Farmers
With the withdrawal of U.S. military forces looming in the near future, ADT personnel are focusing more of their efforts on training and education. For ADTs, this particularly means providing Afghan farmers with the knowledge and tools they'll need to increase agricultural productivity. An example of this effort by ADTs recently took place in Panjwai District where members of the Kentucky ADT assisted in providing training in a Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Training program.
The training took place over four days and consisted of classes in best practices for grape, raisin and pomegranate production. Grapes are an especially important crop in Panjwai's agriculture industry. What is also important for sustainability of these agricultural training events is the involvement of Afghan agriculture experts. An added benefit of this training event was that an instructor from Kandahar University instructor helped provide the training.
A total of 19 farmers completed the training and certificates of completion were presented by local Afghan officials. Very often, when farmers undergo such training they are also provided with free tools and supplies useful for their agricultural work. The farmers who completed this training received supply kits that included buckets, orchard ladders, shears, lugs, gloves, safety goggle, and helmets.
Next on the training schedule for the Kentucky ADT is a class in Integrated Pest Management and Composting.
Agriculture and Veterinary Seminar Held in Zabul Province
An Agriculture and Veterinary Seminar was scheduled to be given by the DAIL Agriculture Specialist, Ismatullah, and DAIL Veterinarian, Dr. Taj Mohammed at the Spin Murani Afghan National Police Checkpoint. Initially, no one showed up for the event and at approximately 0900 the District Chief of Police (DCOP), LT Aziz, took a patrol into the village of Spin Murani to gather villagers to attend the event. He returned with 33 villagers who were welcomed and Ismatullah promptly began providing education on identifying and treating diseases in pomegranates, figs, and wheat.
Although Afghan farmers appeared to appreciate the training, members of the Zabul ADT reported that tensions between Afghan government officials, in particular between the District Chief of Police and the District Governor (DGOV), could place the success of future training in jeopardy. In fact, the DCOP had claimed that no one would attend the training seminar if the DGOV was there, but this turned out not to be true.
Prior to the completion of his instruction and prior to Dr. Taj providing the veterinary portion of the educational seminar, the DCOP ended the seminar stating that it was lasting too long. But afterwards the DCOP assisted the DGOV in distributing radios and Radio Literacy Program (RLP) items to the attendees. Due to the early lack of attendance at the seminar and tensions between the DCOP and DGOV, it was decided that the second day of the seminar would take place at the District Center.
On this second day, Dr. Taj vaccinated approximately 250 livestock at the Collection Center located immediately outside of the District Center during which time, Farid (Radio in a Box (RIAB) operator), gathered questions from attendees which he later used in a Q and A session with Dr. Taj for a future RIAB broadcast. All attendees were very appreciative of the services provided and extremely receptive to the presence of the DGOV at the event. And the DGOV took the opportunity to speak to all attendees as well as provide them with radios, hats, RLP books, and magazines for their participation.
During both events, the DCOP maintained a background position and was seemingly unsupportive of the seminars. Zabul ADT members attributed this behavior to personal tensions between the DCOP and DGOV.
Georgia ADT II Assists with Afghan-Led Veterinary Training in Wardak Province
Veterinary Technicians (Vet Techs) from Georgia ADT II, along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Civil Affairs team from Command Outpost Sayed Abad, traveled to Wardak Province to work with the acting Agriculture Line Director, Dr. Naqibullah. The purpose of the trip was to assist in training local farmers in veterinary practices including hoof care, sheep shearing, and castration using the Burdizzo castration device.
Seventy-six farmers from 20 different villages participated in the training sessions. As part of the U.S. goal of transitioning agricultural reconstruction efforts to Afghans, U.S. personnel provided assistance but Afghan officials played the major role in delivering the training. The Georgia ADT II Vet Techs arrived early to conduct a training session with Dr. Naqibullah who then presented the instruction to the farmers. The ADT Vet Techs observed and only participated when Dr. Naqibullah requested assistance.
The second day of training was 100% Afghan led with no help from ADT personnel. This training format allowed members of the Georgia ADT to provide support while remaining in the background, which in turn allowed Afghan officials to take the lead and gain credibility with the people they serve.
At the end of the training Dr. Naqibullah handed out veterinarian supplies to the participating farmers, which ADT members reported were received with great excitement and appreciation. One farmer commented that he intended to share his supplies with 15 farmers who lived around him but who didn't get to come to the training.
New Program in Zabul Province Elementary School Emphasizes Food Security and Improved Nutrition for Afghan Families
An agricultural education program at the Shar-e-Safa Girls' Elementary School in Tarnak Wal Jaldak District in Zabul Province, is serving as a model for schools in how to educate the next generation in ways to improve nutrition through better food production and preservation. The elementary school has implemented an annual kitchen garden project, which is the first in Zabul Province.
The kitchen garden concept is intended to be a sustainable program managed by the District Extension Agent (DEA) with the Director of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (DAIL) that will promote nutrition and the kitchen garden concept throughout schools in the province. A great benefit of the project is that there is very little overhead and maintenance costs associated with the program and the students reap the benefits of their labor. The pilot program utilizes a four phase concept. The first phase consists of an introduction to the program and teaches students about preparing and planting the garden. The second phase teaches them about the benefits of kitchen gardening at home, including providing the family with food security and better nutrition. The third phase provides instruction on preserving seeds for next growing season. And the fourth phase gives students instruction on food preservation techniques to increase food security for their families.
Demonstration and practice is a critical element in promoting agricultural education in children. Only children who regularly attend school are allowed to participate in the kitchen garden, which also helps to encourage school attendance. Zabul ADT members report that while school leaders have eagerly accepted a basic education plan to implement the project, more village and government support will be needed if this program is to reach its full potential. Thus far, the initial development of the project has been successful because there has been active involvement of the school staff. This support of the local educational staff is a key element to the success of the pilot program.
Tarnak Wal Jaldak Demonstration Farm Becomes Important Educational Center
The Tarnak Wal Jaldak Demonstration Farm in Zabul Province is being developed into an agricultural teaching facility that will provide many benefits for local Afghan farmers. As an educational facility, the farm will be used to demonstrate and teach improved farming techniques that will result in increased yields and improved quality of produce. Other advantages of the agricultural education conducted at the farm will include improved marketability of produce and increased access to markets that will help boost the economic strength of the local farmers.
The demonstration farm laborer, along with his sons, is very knowledgeable about the growing requirements of local crops. He and his sons have efficiently managed the work required to prepare the fields, prune plants, transplant seedlings, irrigate, plant secondary crops, and manage plant pests and diseases. They, along with the Extension Agent and the Director of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL), have effectively worked together to define goals and action plans for developing and maintaining the demonstration farm.
The DAIL partnered with Roots of Peace to receive improved grape cultivars, trellising materials, and technical guidance about how to maintain a vineyard. Another effective partnering endeavor occurred when Spirit of America provided money for repair of the farm generator and well pump.
An additional benefit of the demonstration farm is that it is close enough to Kandahar to serve as an intern site for horticulture and agronomy students attending Kandahar University and is also very close to Highway 1, which means that the farm is easily accessible to farmers from all across Zabul Province. Along with its secure compound and proximity to the orchard, vineyard and nursery, the agriculture extension has three classroom areas with electric power, which makes it a professional venue for demonstrations and classes.
Georgia ADT and USAID Host Shura for Afghan Government and Agricultural Leaders
On 12 March 2012, Georgia ADT 1 and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a shura for business leaders from the agriculture industry of Logar Province at the Pul-e' Alam Provincial Center. Local attendees included members of the Logar Beekeeper's Association, the Muhammad Agha Wheat Seed Association, the Pul-e' Alam Green Mountain Association, the Baraki Barak Greenhouse Growers Association, and the extension agents from the Provincial Department of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock of Logar. To begin, representatives from the USAID Afghan Development Fund Program shared information about an opportunity for businesses and associations to apply for and receive loans. These loans would support business expansion in order to improve production, harvesting, processing, storage, and marketing of their products.
The ACE loan program is co-organized by USAID and Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (MAIL) and offers loans of around $100,000 to agricultural groups that demonstrate past leadership and organizational skills, present a solid business plan, and show potential for economic success. Following the ACE loan presentation, those who attended received training on financial recordkeeping and business planning. While the organized training was effective and well received, the informal discussion during and following the event was the most impressive. Several key leaders of the agricultural industry in the province voiced their concerns and hopes for the future. The resounding message from those in attendance repeatedly emphasized the importance of associations and businesses learning to stand on their own feet without relying on coalition forces, the national government of Afghanistan or support from non-governmental organizations.
Georgia ADT Partners with USAID and USDA to Provide Agribusiness Training
On March 13 and 14 in partnership with USAID and USDA, Georgia ADT 1 hosted agribusiness leadership and business training for associations, cooperatives, and the Director of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock (DAIL) staff leaders from throughout Wardak Province this week in the provincial center of Maydan Shar. About fifty representatives from at least seven districts gathered to participate in two days of leadership, organization, financial management, and business planning, training and discussion.
Day one of the event included classroom sessions on financial recordkeeping and the creation of business plans. This training was followed by presentations from the USAID Afghan Development Fund Project, which provides ACE loans to agribusinesses and associations that demonstrate excellent organization and potential for economic growth in the areas of agricultural production, harvesting, storage, processing, and marketing. During the second day of training, the class split into small groups and were given individual training and mentorship by agricultural specialists from Georgia ADT 1 and TF Bulldog's Senior Agricultural Advisor, J.J. Smith.
The associations and cooperatives leaders worked to develop and share their organizations' by-laws and to draft business plans while the DAIL staff held group discussions regarding the importance of supporting sustainable business practices for farmers in the districts they serve. The event ended with closing remarks from Georgia ADT 1 Commander COL Bill Williams, encouraging the group to continue its hard work and continuously look for innovative ways to strengthen the agricultural industry of Wardak Province.
These training events proved to be an enormous success. Georgia ADT's agricultural specialists are working tirelessly to support agribusinesses and associations that show potential to bring sustainable improvements to the production, processing, and marketing of agricultural products in Logar and Wardak Province. Every opportunity our group has to empower these groups brings Afghanistan one idea, one lesson learned, and one day closer to self-sufficiency and prosperity. At the conclusion of the meeting these Afghans were challenged to develop their own history and to lead Afghanistan into a successful future.
ADT Education Efforts Focus on "Training the Trainers"
Real success in military-led stability and development operations occurs when military teams are able to pass the effort off to civilian authorities. For that reason, ADT education efforts focus both on providing farmers with the skills to improve their economic positions and also on giving Afghan officials and their staff the skills they'll need to become leaders and educators themselves.
A number of these educational missions were conducted during the first week of October. On 1 October, members of the Georgia ADT attended the Sayed Abad Wheat Association meeting in order to provide assistance to the new association. Also at the meeting was the owner of the Maka Agriculture Company (MAC), Mr. Hajji Walli, who provided instruction to association members on the importance of marketing their crops. He also lectured on the primary purposes of an association and how an association should function. As training came to an end, the association selected two members to travel to Kabul with Hajji Habib, the District Ag Extension Director, to purchase certified wheat seed for the association.
ADT members reported that in their opinion, association members were genuinely interested in the training and the information it provided to them. Many of them not only asked questions, but shared their own experiences, which served to provide even more information to other farmers at the meeting. Development experts also believe that such associations can serve the added function of training citizens to take on community leadership roles and in that sense, associations can help in building future government capacity.
A few days later, on 4 October, agricultural experts with the Georgia ADT met with the Mohammad Agha agriculture extension agent Muhammad Sha and with representatives from USAID to solidify coordination for training in greenhouse maintenance and management that will take place in early November. The training is an example of the goal of "training the trainers." It will be provided to staff with the Mohammad Agha DAIL who will in turn provide training and support to 30 landowners who will be receiving greenhouses later this year under a program sponsored by the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL).
During that coordination meeting, members of Georgia ADT also received updates from the Mohammad Agha DAIL staff on the cool storage training that they have been conducting for farmers throughout the district. They seemed quite excited about the success of their efforts. After the meeting, the group stepped outside to view the ongoing renovation of the greenhouse within the demonstration farm, which will soon be completed and ready for use. The group also reviewed other ongoing projects such as the outdoor training gazebo.
At one point in this relationship between the Georgia ADT and Afghan district agricultural staff, the ADT felt that it was being relied upon too much. The result was that the ADT stopped providing funding and instead encourage DAIL staff first to use more effectively the resources the ADT had already provided. The DAIL staff did and the cool storage training led by the DAIL staff and plans for future horticulture training are viewed as significant signs of growth and progress for the DAIL staff in Muhammad Agha.
One of the more widely-used training tools by ADTs is demonstration farms. The farms not only provide hands-on training, but they are also used for experiments on better production techniques. An example of this was a recent mission conducted by the Illinois ADT to the Asad Abad Demonstration Farm and Orchard (ADFO) in Sagai Village in the Asad Abad District of Kunar Province.
ADT members met with Fazal Rhman (District Extension Agent) and Sayed Obeidullah (ADT Young Professional) to coordinate a vegetable training event focused on tomato staking, raised vegetable beds, winter vegetable production, drip irrigation, fertigation, winter greenhouse production, inter-cropping tangerines, agriculture marketing, and with discussion on agricultural loans to 50 farmers from the Asad Abad District area. While there, ADT ag experts reported on the status of various projects at the farm. The agricultural production practices used at the farm are taught to local farmers and experiments are also conducted on ways to improve the quality and quantity of crops. To expand activity at the farm, the ADT is also supporting the construction of a cool storage facility and while there, met with contractors who are putting in bids.
ADT ag experts reported that farm staff "had just finished harvesting the row-cropped corn when we arrived and were quite happy with the productivity. A portion of the harvest will be replanted next year along a hybrid for side-by-side analysis, the remainder will be sold as seed corn. The stalk of the corn will be utilized as forage for livestock. The tomato plants were smaller in height than anticipated, but they still had ample production. Blossom end rot did not appear as rampant as in the first crop. The eggplant crop looked excellent and already had about 60 kg of eggplants harvested and sold at market. Raised beds were finished being built on the flood irrigated ground and were in the process of being built in the drip irrigated ground. Cauliflower seedlings had just recently been transplanted to the flood irrigated ground."
The Illinois ADT also visited a demonstration farm in the Marawara District of Kunar Province on 3 October that included meetings with farm owner Abdul Wali and farm leader Khan Mahmad. ADT ag experts were there to assist in developing a winter crop growing schedule, to review the corn yield results from the test plots of broadcast versus row crop fields and to organize a training event to be held during the harvest of the cotton.
ADT members reported on their visit that "of the two test plots only the broadcast area was harvested during our visit but a comparison was still possible. The majority of the farm was planted with a local corn and maintained by the farmer, while the demo section was planted with hybrid seed planted broadcast and in rows. The demo farm broadcast side was compared to the farmer broadcast. The ADT broadcast produced far better results. The corn in row experiment is yet to be harvested, but already looks promising as compared with traditional broadcast seeding style."
The experiments on the farm were clearly helping farmers see the impacts of using different types of crops and farming techniques. And because of that, the ADT has more experiments planned for the next season. Results of tests are also used in training that takes place at the demo farms, such as cotton training that the Illinois ADT will help conduct during the November cotton harvest. ADT members report that they are not surprised to see that Afghan farmers are much like American farmers - if they see it, they believe it. And demonstration farms are the best way for Afghan farmers to see the benefits of alternative farming practices.
Kansas ADT Host Agricultural Conference
On 23 September 2011, the Kansas ADT hosted an agricultural conference that aimed to provide local farmers with one-stop shopping in terms of giving training and information of use in their agricultural businesses. Such events also provide opportunities for farmers to share information with one another and build relationships.
Mission Summary: Kansas ADT 4 coordinated and hosted an agricultural conference at the Director of Agricultural, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) Research and Development Farm located in Mehtar Lam, Laghman Province. The conference provide information to the farmers of Laghman Province on the programs offered by the DAIL and his staff, techniques for improving productivity, as well as introduce them to local businesses that can provide inputs and services.
Mission Comments: The farmers of Laghman province are hungry for any information and aid they can get that will assist them in improving their agricultural productivity. Conferences like this one are a good way to provide desired information, introduce people to organizations that are willing to help, and show examples of what can be done when proper techniques are used. As a way forward, ADT members intend to continuing talking with the contacts made at the agricultural conference in order to discover what their individual needs are and to assist the DAIL in developing plans of action to address those needs.
Training Session in Nangarhar Provides Leadership Skills for Future Afghan Leaders
On 21 September 2011, the Nangarhar-based Agribusiness Development Team attended a training session for Afghan civilians aimed at improving their business and leadership techniques. Such training plays an important role in helping Afghans gain the skills necessary to become successful political and economic leaders for their communities.
Mission Summary: Nangarhar Agri-Business Development Team (ADT) attended the Agriculture Technical Working Group (TWG) with the Nangarhar Director of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) at the municipality guest house located inside the Governor's palace. The ADT arrived at the municipality guest house early and met with Engineer Safi (Nangarhar DAIL) and Brian Fulghum (Silk Road Solutions), a USAID implementing partner. Silk Road Solutions specializes in leadership and business training for Afghan civilians and is working with ADT to train district Agriculture Extension Agents (AEAs), DAIL staff members, and micro-grant recipients. This was the fourth and final day of the first class under this partnership. Attendees included ten members of the DAIL staff and AEAs from the nine key terrain districts and Chaparhar. Eng Safi said that the training was very good and that his staff and the Agriculture Extension Agents in the class were showing up early because they were excited about the class.
The TWG agenda included: recitation of the Holy Quran, review of the previous meeting minutes, Rural Rehabilitation and Development (RRD) presentation, International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) activities report, and Spin Ghar poultry association report. Neither the RRD nor ICARDA attended the meeting. Eng Safi stated that there are thirty-eight organizations working with the DAIL and emphasized the importance of all members attending the TWG.
Eng Safi stated that the Nangarhar province is more productive than many other provinces related to livestock and crops. He stated that poultry production has improved and that efforts were needed towards private sector growth in the poultry industry. The group had some discussion on this and agreed that the two biggest needs were local breeder farms / hatcheries and feed mills to eliminate the need to import poults and feed from Pakistan.
The Spin Ghar poultry association stated that they were established in 2006 with funding from Incentives Driving Economic Alternatives North, East and West (IDEA-NEW). They stated that IDEA-NEW has new poultry projects for Kama and Bati Kot districts that are waiting on Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Rehabilitation and Development approval to start.
Mission Comments: ADT has high expectations for the Silk Road Solutions leadership and business training that was given to the nine KTD and Chaparhar AEA's, and ten DAIL staff members. Attendance was good, and the fact that many members showed up early indicates that they were eager to learn. Attendees of the training are expected to have increased inter-personal and organizational skills after attending the class. ADT is looking for positive behavior changes from the attendees to validate the value of this training. If successful, ADT plans to move forward with the Silk Road Solutions training by providing it to micro-grant recipients.
The TWG group identified need for additional Afghan owned quality poultry input providers in the province. Many organizations have programs currently in place to provide these inputs. The ADT plans to continue to assist in these efforts as long as input providers have a profitable, sustainable plan that adequately balances supply and demand.
Farmers in Noor Gul District Learn about Winter Vegetable Production
Mission Summary: Ghulam Ali planned and coordinated the training event with a little assistance from the ADT. The training event began at 0800 on 10 Sep 2011 and was conducted at the ADT Noor Gul Demo Farm. Ghulam Ali was unable to train farmers because his cousin was killed in a traffic accident the day prior. One of the ADT's young professionals continued on with the training and taught 40 farmers on both subjects. The training went well, with there being many questions asked by the farmers about cauliflower and cabbage. The majority of the training was lecture style training with some hands-on field training toward the end of the event. Then, there was a sit down meal served to the farmers and they were given a shovel as a gift to encourage attendance. There was favorable response to the training from the Noor Gul farmers. The young professional said that they were happy to get the training and appreciated the efforts of the extension agent.
Mission Comments: The follow-on plan of the ADT is to continue to assist Ghulam Ali in planning these small training events. Sometimes the small events make it easier for the farmers to pick up the information and actually implement it. Also, this type of event allows the extension agent to talk one on one with the farmers and survey their needs. There should also be an effort to hold these events in different parts of the district, so as to allow farmers from villages further from the district center to attend the training event.
Georgia ADT Provides Map Reading and GPS Training to Afghan Officials
Mission Summary: GA ADT 1 and the USDA conducted map reading and GPS training for the Directorate of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) staff members from Logar Province. The DAIL trainees will now be able to accurately locate agricultural project sites throughout Logar. The training involved both technical classroom instruction as well as a field exercise. Participants learned basic map reading skills, typical map symbols and principles, using the map legend, terrain features and visualization, coordinate systems, and more. They were also provided practical, hands-on experience using their new GPS units. During the field exercise, the students learned how the GPS works and how to setup the unit for use. Once the menus were reviewed and the units were set properly, the extension agents were given sets of coordinates to plug into their devices. Once the coordinates were loaded, the DAIL staff confidently and swiftly moved to the correct locations with ease. After the practical exercise, the extension agents returned to the classroom for review and some more work with the maps. The waypoints from the field exercise were plotted on the Logar maps to demonstrate that they could come back from the field and quickly locate the same spot on the map. The DAIL and staff are now prepared to accurately navigate to, and record the locations and site details of projects in Logar Province.
Mission Comments: This training meets the intent of GIRoA's focus on staff development and is synchronized with agriculture-based learning. This program, backed by the GA ADT 1, provides the DAIL's staff additional knowledge that will help provide them confidence as they focus on the population they serve. This is the first phase of a multiple phase GA ADT 1 campaign plan to train the DAIL's staff on project management.
Georgia ADT 1 and Baraki Barak District Sub Governor Hold Key Leader Engagement
On 21 August 2011, Georgia ADT 1 held a Key Leader Engagement (KLE) in Baraki Barak District with the District Sub Governor. The KLE was an opportunity for ADT members and Afghan district government officials to discuss the current status of agricultural development efforts in the district as well as future steps toward further development.
Mission Summary: GA ADT 1 met with the Baraki Barak District Sub Governor (DSG) on a wide range of agriculture issues for the district. Of particular note was the expansion of the cool storage construction in the district from 14 to a current total of 28 (cool storage supports the District Delivery Plan's (DDP) MAIL prioritized project for fruit and vegetable preservation). Additionally, COL Williams, commander of GA ADT 1, expressed his strong desire to support the other DDP prioritized project of veterinary clinic/services, and that the GA ADT 1 needs the full partnership of the Agriculture Line Officer to move forward on this project. After the initial discussion, a tour of the District Center, to include the new ANP building, CHC building, proposed Courthouse area and orchard was conducted to survey potential well sites and water distribution among the many buildings. DSG expressed his sincere gratitude to the GA ADT 1 for their continued efforts and keeping him informed on the progress. DSG stated that the way ahead for progress in Baraki Barak was agriculture. COL Williams expressed his support for the ongoing partnership they have formed, and indicated that GA ADTs will be here for three years supporting the people of Afghanistan.
Mission Comments: The number two goal of the USG agriculture assistance strategy is to develop increased confidence of the Afghans in their government. Maintaining our relationship with GIRoA officials and continual mentoring of GIRoA personnel is a cornerstone for the GA ADT 1 strategy for achieving this goal. The mentoring sessions and relationship that we have created with the District Sub Governor is beginning to pay some dividends. The Sub Governor has been actively engaged and has been supportive of our projects in his district. More importantly, he has taken this message of support to his people by visiting project sites and discussing the projects with his people. Since our focus is on what is best for the Afghans, we continue to work behind the scenes building relationships to ensure Afghan problems have Afghan solutions and are Afghan led.
Illinois ADT Works to Expand Agricultural Knowledge
As part of its continuing effort to assist Afghan farmers in learning better farming techniques and in building stronger relationships between Afghan citizens and their government, the Illinois ADT conducted a Key Leader Engagement (KLE) on 9 August 2011 that also included an evaluation of a demonstration farm and a canal project in Chowkay District in Kunar Province. The mission brought together members of the ADT and GIRoA officials, including the Sub-Governor, Assistant Sub-Governor, Kunar Irrigation Director and the Afghan Agricultural Extension Agent.
A key lesson learned during the demonstration farm visit is that while the demo farm is proving to be an excellent educational tool, the benefits are not widespread. As a result, the Illinois ADT is now looking at strategies to get the knowledge learned from the farm out to more farmers, such as through better marketing of the farm and its benefits and by creating demonstration plots around the district rather than just at the main demo farm.
Mission Summary: The ADT arrived at Chowkay District Center and split into two separate groups. The first group went to the demo farm and met with Extension Agent/Land Owner Mr. Haji Mashook and the second group went and met with the Sub-Governor and staff. The first group discussed ways to improve the demo farm or apply lessons learned from the farm to other areas in Chowkay. We looked at the greenhouse, orchard, soybean trials, corn trials and the cotton trials. We discussed ways to improve each trial. We also discussed the commanders micro grant program and ways to get businesses of Chowkay informed of the program and how they could apply. We also inquired as to his extension training plan, and ways he could improve it to get local farmers learning new techniques. We then proceeded to the Chowkay Canal project. Work was due to begin on 06 Aug 11 and we found it had begun in earnest. We saw that the foundation had been dug with approximately 10 meters left before the hole was complete. We were introduced, and spoke with, the construction foreman Samuel. In summary, work has begun in earnest on the canal project and appears they are well on schedule to complete the project. The second group went to the meeting at the District Center and it was productive. It gave the team an opportunity to engage elders on agriculture issues in Chowkay to include irrigation matters and agri-business.
Demonstration Farms Play Pivotal Role in Educating Afghan Farmers
ADT missions aim not to do for the Afghan people but to help them do for themselves. With that goal in mind, much of the work of ADT members focuses on providing training and educational opportunities for Afghan farmers. Creating demonstration farms is one of the more common agricultural projects undertaken by ADTs in Afghanistan. In creating such farms, ADT members work closely with Afghan District Extension Agents, who are similar to U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension agents in the U.S. An example of ADT involvement in demonstration farms is visible in the following mission report created by the Illinois ADT during a recent mission in Kunar Province.
Mission Summary: ADT personnel visited the Bar Chage Demonstration Orchard in Asadabad District in Kunar Province in order to evaluate the orchard and vegetable production. The purpose was to assess infrastructure improvements that can improve agricultural production within the province. Coalition personnel CPT Cosgriff, CPT Weir, SFC Wright and SPC McFalls (1-14th ADT)/Intern met with Afghan District Extension Agent Fazal Rhman.
The demonstration orchard at Bar Chage has been utilized to educate farmers and students in orchard establishment, maintenance, and production and the economical feasibility of intercropping vegetables. The young orchard is about two years away from producing produce and appeared vigorous and healthy. Currently the farm is in the early stages of selling tomatoes (about 80kg sold). Production is high, however more than 60% of the tomatoes are experiencing blossom end rot. This is the result of poor irrigation practices. The irrigation that will be installed within the next month will help illustrate how improved irrigation practices will result in a higher sellable yield. The row corn is about six inches tall and growing well, but showing signs of poor irrigation practices. The second crop of tomatoes had been planted and the eggplant and cucumber will be planted in the next couple of days.
Mission Comments: Currently the demonstration farm is being improperly irrigated. The use of drip irrigation will demonstrate improved irrigation practices.
Hazrat Ghul is a progressive fruit producer within Kunar Province. He is demonstrating that intercropping vegetables is an economically feasible means to produce capital until the orchard is mature enough to produce. Comparison of irrigation practices will provide practical, hands-on training to local farmers and improve their water use efficiency and production.