"This just in..."
Midwest grain bins going to Afghan farmers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 17, 2009
By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Lory Stevens
Task Force Warrior Public Affairs Office
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Members of the Task Force Warrior Agri-Business Development Team visited several villages in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province, July 13, to assess completed grain bins that once occupied farmlands in Imperial, Neb. The bins have been relocated and reconstructed to help Afghan farmers with grain storage issues.
“These completed grain bins are the first in Afghanistan, and serve as an excellent way for farmers to store their grain,” said ADT Agronomist, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Eldon Kuntzelman, who first thought of the idea to ship grain bins to Afghanistan, June 2008, during pre-deployment preparations.
“It was reported to the ADT that grain storage was an issue in Afghanistan,” said Kuntzelman, who worked last summer alongside ADT members and community volunteers to disassemble eight local grain bins donated by Kip Bremer, Kurt Bernhardt, and Wayne Bahler, all farmers from Imperial, Neb.
Farmer Gregg Smith also offered some of his grain bins. Business owner Bob Mendenhall volunteered his time, a boom truck, and air tools to assist with the disassembly, and loading and transporting of the bins from Imperial, Neb., 300 miles away to Lincoln, Neb. They were later transported to Camp Atterbury, Ind., and shipped to Afghanistan.
“It took about a week to take down the eight bins,” said Kuntzelman, crediting farmer Richard Banks for donating his time alongside the TF Warrior ADT to disassemble and load the bins.
“Once we hit the ground here in October 2008, we started assessing the area for places to put the bins up,” said Kuntzelman, who assists local farmers in Kapisa, Parwan, Panjshir and Bamyan provinces.
During the mission July 13, TF Warrior ADT assessed three completed grain bins in Kapisa province.
“Shir Padasha Village constructed the grain bin exactly as we trained them,” said Kuntzelman, who walked on foot to the village due to heavy tree cover and narrow streets for travel.
At the second location, a short distance away, where a smaller bin was constructed, farmers were very happy to have something to store their grain in. They offered members of the ADT apricots and plums to eat.
“They tasted great,” Kuntzelman said.
A larger bin was constructed at a third location where a well is being drilled and a vineyard is experiencing a fungus problem on grapes.
In addition to the three completed grain bins in Kapisa, one grain bin has been delivered to Parwan, and plans are in the works to deliver the remaining four grain bins to Panjshir.
“All the foundation pads are poured at the various locations for the grain bins to be assembled, and we expect all eight bins to be completed by the end of the month,” Kuntzelman said.