By Army Spc. James Wilton
Task Force Red Bulls
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (4/14/11) – The Baston Seed Company opened the doors of a new soybean processing facility in Bagram, April 2.
Local leaders from Panjshir and Parwan Provinces, members of Nutrition Education International and the Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team attended the ceremony.
The building will hold the soy processing equipment donated to the people of Afghanistan by NEI with help from the Kentucky Guard ADT. The U.S. and the Baston Seed Company owner, Haji Abdul Robate Qahir, partnered to fund the facility.
Baston will buy soybeans from Afghan farmers and clean, dry and mill them into flour at the new processing facility.
“This soy flour can be added to wheat flour at a 10 percent ratio to create super naan bread,” said Army Col. Hunter Mathews, the ADT commander. “The naan bread [will have] a great deal of protein content and stay fresh for a day longer.”
“Soybeans are not the solution to all of Afghanistan's agricultural problems, but they do offer another tool to the local farmer to both feed his family and increase his prosperity,” said Mathews. “Your cooperation and support of this new facility is a great sign of progress for the farmers of Afghanistan.”
More Afghan farmers started growing soy in place of, or alongside, other more common crops because of its nutritional value and ability to flourish in the local climate. NEI hopes it will be a part of the solution to the nutrition problem in Afghanistan.
"NEI Nutrition was very excited to be a part of the ribbon cutting in Parwan mainly because of the nutritional value that soybeans offer such as milk, flour and food," said Mohammad Sharif Sharif, an engineer with Soy Nutrition Services Afghanistan, part of NEI.
“Soy is an inexpensive substitute for meat, eggs, and milk, with protein that helps people stay healthy, particularly children and young mothers,” said Mathews. “The nutrition from soy beans will help Afghanistan have stronger, healthier people.”
NEI will place an expert at the site for the next five years to ensure the equipment works properly and the project stays sustainable.
"Soybean production is important to Afghanistan, as a second crop after wheat and its high protein value,” said Abdul Kabir Farzam, the Parwan DAIL. “In addition, the people of Parwan will now have a place to sell their harvest."
He said Baston’s Soybean Processing building is now open for business and helping to make soybeans a sustainable and profitable crop for Afghan farmers.