Greenhouse and well open at DAIL office in Parwan Province

Parwan Provincial Governor, Abdul Basir Salangi, Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team leader, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ruth A. Graves, of Franklin, Ky., U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marion Peterson, of Lexington, Ky., and the head of Parwan Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, Shri Amri, cut the ribbon on a new diesel powered generator that will supply power for a well and provide irrigation to local farmers in Parwan province, Afghanistan, Feb. 24. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Donald L. Reeves, 300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Story by Staff Sgt. Donald L. Reeves
300th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Feb. 24, 2010) – A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the opening of a new green house and well at the office of the the Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in Parwan province, Afghanistan, Feb. 24.

Parwan Governor, Abdul Basir Salangi, attended the ceremony alongside members of the Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team.

The greenhouse and well are just two additions in a series of projects aimed at moving local Afghan farmers out of mere sustenance farming through teaching modern techniques and providing resources.

The DAIL office in Parwan valley serves as a training ground for local agriculture officials. They act in similar capacity as county extension agents in rural areas of the United States. They take the lessons learned, such as those that will be taught at the new greenhouse, back to their communities and teach locals how to implement the new techniques.

According to the ADT Team Leader, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Ruth A. Graves, “A lot of the problem is infrastructure and technology.”

Graves knows a bit about farming herself, as she raises cattle back in Franklin, Ky.

She described her first reaction to Afghan farming techniques, “It feels like you step backwards a hundred years in time. Most of the farmers still plow with oxen.”

“The greenhouses will extend the growing season,” and allow farmers to produce products well beyond the traditional seasons, said Graves. “It’s just like any farm. The weather and other factors play a big part in how much is produced from year to year.”

Graves helped to cut the ribbon on the diesel powered well that pumps water into a holding tanking and spoke about how this would improve the quality of life in an area where 80 percent of the local population is involved in some kind of farming, but only 12 percent of the land is arable.

“Anytime you use different techniques to control flooding and irrigation, it is an improvement. You get better water quality, instead of floods that leave behind stagnant water,” she said.

This is not the first irrigation project for the ADT. The team that is comprised mostly of National Guardsmen and attached to Task Force Cyclone were a huge part of the Salang River Aqueduct Erosion Control Project, which according to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Marion Peterson of Lexington, Ky., “Prevented a major aqueduct from collapsing.”

Peterson, who also serves with the Kentucky ADT, said that in addition to the well and greenhouse, the ADT will conduct veterinarian clinics at the DAIL office along with a future poultry project that will provide incubators and training to local farmers so they can raise chickens.

Graves and Peterson described a reforestation project in the works along with other projects such as solar power veterinarian offices, tractors for farmers and teaching farmers to raise honey bees.

Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony, Graves said that the greenhouse would have a lasting impact on local Afghans.

“Not only do they get the benefit of the produce,” Graves said, “but they get the benefit of the education that comes along with it.”

After cutting the colorful ribbon on the well with Graves and head of the Parwan, DAIL Shri Amri, Gov. Salangi told the crowd of people, “Because Parwan is the backbone for security it is very important that we provide jobs and opportunities here. We are very grateful for all the support. We hope to work together for the future of the people of Afghanistan.”

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