By Army Pvt. Christopher McKenna
Special to American Forces Press Service
April 28, 2008 - U.S. civil affairs soldiers assessed fish farms in the Lutifiyah, Iraq, area April 23 to gauge their progress. "What we are trying to do is set up fish farms that can supply a mass product," said Army Pfc. Timothy Perkins, a communications specialist with Company B, 411th Civil Affairs Battalion.
Three types of carp -- common, grass and silver -- are going to be raised in the farms.
"The government of Iraq is actually working toward setting up a fish farmers agriculture committee," Perkins said. "It is going to be a program used to educate the farmers [on] caring for fish and agricultural requirements that the ponds have."
Once the committee becomes official, it will consist of farmers, local government officials, tribal leaders and sheikhs from around the area.
"At this point, none of the farms are operational," Perkins said. "Some of the ponds have only recently begun construction."
The fish season begins in March and lasts eight months. The ponds must be leveled out at two meters deep with limited brush. To be considered for pumps, ponds must be free of algae and bacteria. Farms meeting the requirements will be provided with pumps to filter the water in their ponds.
"We hope to have pumps ready so that fish can be stocked into the farms which meet the requirements come August," said Army Capt. Benjamin Neusse, a civil military operations officer with the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
(Army Pvt. Christopher McKenna serves with the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)