Growing conditions in Afghanistan

I’m not much of a farmer.  A couple of plants on my patio, a tomato plant here and there, that is about it.  That being said, though I don’t know much about agronomy I do know that dirt, okay, sand…silt…dust…whatever it is that Afghans in Zabul Province have access to doesn’t make their task of growing food for themselves, their families and communities any easier.

This is a freeze of video I shot while visiting a Demonstration Farm near FOB Bullard in the Shah Joy region of Zabul.  This is what the Farm looked like in April.

The Minnesota National Guard’s Zabul Agribusiness Development Team is mentoring Afghans to help them get the farm up and running.  The project was a few weeks behind schedule when I was out there.  The cement posts you see are connected by wire that will be used to support grape vines.  This region of Afghanistan was once one of the top exporters of raisins; with the ADT mentoring Zabul’s Department of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (DAIL) there is potential that once again Zabul farmers could begin producing at a high level.  A level high enough for them to re-enter the international market.

The idea behind the Demonstration Farm is that the DAIL would operate it and keep it open so area farmers could come in and see techniques to better cultivate crops like almonds, pomegranates and grapes.  Aside from the fields, the Farm houses cisterns, greenhouses and a number of classrooms.  To pull Zabul out of its 30 year slump resources will need to be restored.  After years of war the knowledge that was once in this land is gone, with lack of knowledge crops fail, when crops fail desperation sets in.

For comparison here’s a shot of AnyFarm, Minnesota.

Learn about other ways the Minnesota National Guard’s Zabul ADT is working to mentor the DAIL by tuning in Bridging War and Hope, premiering on Twin Cities Public Television (and streaming on-demand) in the Fall of 2012.