Special to American Forces Press Service
May 8, 2009 - An agribusiness development team from the Kansas National Guard unfurled its colors in Afghanistan's Laghman province May 3 and began its work of jump-starting the agricultural economy. Before the unit arrived in northeastern Afghanistan, an ADT from Missouri was the only one operating in the Nuristan, Nangarhar, Kunar and Laghman provinces, also known as the N2KL region. With additional assets, the two teams will be able to focus on specific areas of development.
"Each area of Afghanistan has a unique set of agricultural challenges and advantages that require tailored approaches to resolve," Army Col. Eric Peck, commander of the Kansas ADT, said. "The more focused we are on the strengths and challenges for a specific locality, the greater chance we have to succeed in improving the quantity, quality and safety of agricultural products for the consumers."
Guard soldiers and airmen -- all volunteers for the duty -- make up Peck's team, and they bring expertise from both military and civilian experience in infantry tactics, engineering, security operations and a variety of civilian skills. They've come from all over Kansas, Texas, and Washington to form what Peck called a truly cohesive melting pot of farmers and agribusiness professionals.
"Our team is focused on four major agribusiness infrastructure areas -- production, storage, processing and education -- and we have projects and program proposals in those areas that we are discussing with our Afghan government, provincial reconstruction team and interagency partners," Peck said.
As the soldiers and airmen settle into Afghanistan, they await the challenges ahead and look forward to paving the way for several rotations of teams to follow as they work to bolster the Afghan food market and aid in economic development.
(Army Staff Sgt. Adora Medina serves in the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)