American Forces Press Service
March 23, 2009 - The food that finds its way onto the tables of Iraqi residents has its origins somewhere, and Team Borlaug researchers are on a mission to see where that journey begins. They traced some of the food's origins to a local animal processing plant and market March 18 here in Kirkuk.
The team is on a nearly six-month tour of northern Iraq to study the agriculture and offer guidance on how it can be improved.
"Our mission is to assess agriculture in Multinational Division North's area and provide recommendations to the command regarding project development and how to get Iraqis back to work in agriculture," Dustin Kinder, Team Borlaug's chief, said.
The team comprises agricultural experts with varying backgrounds, Kinder said. The Defense Department contracted their services through the Borlaug Institute of Agriculture, an academic think tank based at Texas A&M University.
"Everyone has their own specialty," Kinder said. "Everyone fits a role, but we all have ties back to Texas A&M."
Kirkuk is the area in northern Iraq that the team has studied.
After the team has finished assessing the agricultural situation in Kirkuk, they will make recommendations to improve agricultural processes.
"We are going to help 25th Infantry Division put on an
agricultural conference," Kinder said. "It will include all the agricultural leadership, and we will help them develop a strategic plan for agriculture in Iraq."
The team arrives at a time of Iraqi reconstruction --
agricultural advancement suffered under the former regime.
"The old regime supported agriculture, but didn't let any new technology in," Kinder noted.
"Iraq is a land of suspended potential," he noted. "We want to get them moving forward with the rest of the world. We are starting at a low level and trying to work them up."
The team is helping to accomplish this mission day by day.
"We try to help them learn," Kinder said. "Whether it's
visiting a farmer one-on-one or providing information to a cooperative; we are trying to help them learn new techniques that can improve the way they do business."
The team is working to set up model farms where farmers can see the newest technology and techniques in action, Kinder explained.
The team also has recommended that the Iraqi government set up agricultural cooperatives that will allow Iraq to compete in a free market economy by reducing prices and increasing farming efficiency, he said.
The team has found a progressive attitude in the Iraqi
population they are seeking to help.
"They have the will to farm, they want to farm, they just need the new technology," Kinder said.
"We are trying to get them going," he added. "This needs to build upon itself. We are trying to do small things that will make an impact and allow them to grow."
(From a Multinational Division North news release.)