By Army Sgt. Jason Stadel
Special to American Forces Press Service
May 20, 2008 - A Sayafiyah, Iraq, feed mill owner received a U.S. State Department micro-grant May 16 to get his business going. The mill was inoperable due to insurgent activities in the area.
"We always had to stay in our house," Thamer Hussain Kashkool said, adding that insurgents had stolen the mill's motor.
With most of the extremists driven out, the community is safer, and the focus has changed to rebuilding the agricultural-based economy.
Mike Stevens, Baghdad 7 Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team agricultural advisor, said the mill's main purpose is to help area chicken farmers.
"We have a chicken coop ready to be stocked with 30,000 chicks," Stevens said. "We need this mill so we can stock the coops. The farmers need the mill to feed their chicks." Without a mill in the area, Sayafiyah farmers have to travel to Baghdad to buy feed, something Stevens wants to avoid.
The State Department grant gets Kashkool back on his feet to provide farmers with feed, Stevens said.
"We give them money to start, and then we encourage them to get loans from the Ministry of Agriculture to cover the rest, so we have Iraqis using Iraqi money," he explained.
Kashkool said he would use the start-up money to repair the mill's roof and to buy a generator, motor and various seeds.
In addition to chicken feed, the mill will produce feed for livestock and, eventually, for fish.
Kashool told Army Capt. Shawn Carbone, Baghdad 7 embedded PRT economic chief, that when the mill becomes fully operational he will be able to employ at least 14 people.
(Army Sgt. Jason Stadel serves with the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)