Mississippi National Guard Help Build Afghan Farm IndustryBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 02 Aug 2012 03:38pm |
40 Mississippi National Guard soldiers are mobilizing for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. The mission of the 31st Agribusiness Development Team is to help Afghans develop a legitimate farming industry. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports.
During a send off ceremony in Jackson yesterday Mississippi National Guard Adjutant General Augustus Collins said part of the mission is to teach Afghan officials how to develop an economically stable farming system. For General Collins that means one that doesn't include illegal plants like opium poppy.
"When you don't have other crops then you resort to illegal crops. if we can teach them how to grow vegetables, things to help them feed their families and things that they can do to raise their livestock to where they'll have meat to eat then those other things will go by the wayside."
The soldiers being deployed received part of their training from agricultural experts at Mississippi State University and Alcorn State University. Gary Jackson is Director of the MSU Extension Service. He says the main focus of the mission is to train Afghan leaders good farming techniques.
"Soil fertility, irrigation, animal welfare, they have a lot of sheep also grapes vineyards for example. Those are some of the things that we provided in our program to them."
Staff Sergeant Gregory Reed will also share his expertise with the Afghans. He's an Associate Professor of Animal Science at Alcorn State.
"The state of Mississippi is actually primed for this type of work because the Afghan agriculture environment sort of reminds us of the small farmer we have here in this state,"
The members of the 31st Agribusiness Development Team will spend one year in Afghanistan. Lawayne Childrey, MPB News.
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