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Arghandab Agr. Shura and Tractor Training

The Afghan economy subsists largely upon agricultural production. However, after decades of conflict many of the social networks and practices that had previously sustained this system have been damaged or destroyed. While it may at first seem counterintuitive to educate Afghan farmers on "best practices" in farming, many communities have simply not been able to maintain the knowledge and skill necessary to efficiently use what resources are currently available. For example, farmers tend to use expedient methods of flood irrigation rather than first preparing the soil so that it absorbs and holds water. On the hard-packed earth of southern Afghanistan, flood irrigation leads to unnecessary evaporation and excessive salinity in the soil.

Haji Shah Mohammad Ahmaid

Training and HVC surveys with local farmers

Recently, I wrote about a very successful Agricultural Shura that was conducted in Zharay District of Kandahar. This process of bringing farmers together with the District Governor and District Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) representative has begun to spread to other districts of Kandahar. The Army's Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) has been taking the lead in encouraging this type of organization. In proposing this project, a soldier from the Kentucky ADT wrote to me stating that

The purpose of this shura is to have a better idea of how the farmers in the area use their resources and to educate the farmers on resource management. We hope this will also build a better relationship with the farms and the DAIL

This agriculture shura in Arghandab District of Kandahar ended up being a success. Two Army agricultural experts met with the District Governor, the DAIL and approximately 10 farmers. The shura began with a survey assessment of the farmers' issues and concerns. This portion of the shura was followed by a training session on tractors. These farmers were given training on tractors that they would then use to train other farmers. This was the first of what will be a series of agricultural shuras in Arghandab District.

GS13 Ken Parsons

Arghandab District Governor Haji Shah Mohammad Ahmaid attending the Agricultural Shura

From the generous contributions of Spirit of America donors, this small grant helped to jump-start a process in Arghandab that will increasingly bring Afghan government officials into closer contact with the communities that they represent. Additionally, farmers had the opportunity to meet and discuss their ideas and concerns with each other. These types of projects help to lay the foundations for stability through sustainable governance and development. 

Jim Misencik
Afghanistan Field Rep