Capt. Jeffrey Mann, a soil scientist from the Kansas National Guard teaches students from Nangarhar University how to test soil for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium using chemical tablets, soil and water. (Photo by Pfc. Elizabeth Raney, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs)
Agribusiness teams help Afghan farmers find simple solutions
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau
WASHINGTON (10/6/09) - The National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Teams are promoting sustainable farming practices in Afghanistan and are an innovative way for Guardmembers to use civilian-acquired skills in the region, a Guard official said today.
The teams, which started out with one team from Missouri, have evolved to roughly a dozen dispersed throughout Afghanistan, Army Col. Marty Leppert told an audience here at the annual convention of the Association of the United States Army. Leppert oversees the program for the director of the Army National Guard.
“These guys have just done incredible work in the last two-and-a-half years,” Leppert said. They have stimulated Afghan agriculture, he said.
For the teams, that means engaging with local farmers and helping them to get past many of their challenges, such as water and infrastructure issues.
“Eighty percent of Afghanistan depends on agriculture for its livelihood,” said Leppert. “So it’s incredibly important that if we’re going to attack all the challenges and ills that involve Afghanistan it’s important that we attack agriculture as a need.”
The big focus has been on education and building capability, he said. But the number one issue is water. ...
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