Iowa's Agribusiness Development Team Teaches Agricultural and Entrepreneurial Skills to the Afghan People during the War in Afghanistan

During the War in Afghanistan specialized troops taught Afghans better agricultural practices, the importance of veterinarian services and basic entrepreneurial skills. The goal was to help the Afghan people be more self-sufficient.


Transcript

In addition to combat troops, Iowa forces also included members of an agribusiness development team or ADT, whose mission was to improve the lives of local farmers. Virtually all of the men and women serving in these specialized farmer-soldier units volunteered for the assignment.

Colonel Craig Bargfrede of Ankeny, who has since been promoted to General, commanded Iowa’s ADT.

“They know how to farm pretty well and as long as they could get water to the farm ground they could grow some pretty awesome crops.  The real need was at the provincial and district level and helping those officials build their capacity and their ability to plan projects to secure funding that they needed.”

Sixty-five members of Iowa’s ADT were stationed in the Kunar Province, about two miles from the Pakistani border. Through coordinated efforts with local government officials, the soldiers built demonstration farms and vaccinated thousands of animals.

Dr. Loren Adams of New Liberty sold his veterinary practice prior to his deployment. His goal was to connect local veterinarians with impoverished farmers unaccustomed to fundamental animal health services.

“Everything I did I wanted to bring them together with their clients.  Feeling that the people are so poor I wanted them, they don't even know what the veterinarians can offer to them.”

Each time Adams or any other member of the ADT stepped outside the wire, a combat mission, complete with security detail, was planned and executed. It quickly became apparent he would get more accomplished by hiring some of Kunar Province’s 50 veterinarians.

Under Adam’s supervision, local vets vaccinated more than 20,000 animals.

Members of Iowa's Agribusiness Development Team also taught Afghan women basic veterinary  practices and helped them develop cottage industries like soap making and carpet weaving. “Task Force Hawkeye,” as the group was officially known, worked with local officials to develop a sewing and tailoring program. Those who completed the course were given sewing machines and supplies to make a few projects.


Excerpt from "Iowa Soldiers Remember Afghanistan," Iowa PBS, 2011