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NEWS | July 13, 2010

Agriculture, livestock on mend after Afghans oust Taliban

By 1st Lt. Robert C.J. Parry , ISAF Public Affairs Office

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Kevin Kock, U.S. Department of Agriculture representative for the Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team, assess’ a broken water pipe in Daridam. (Photo by Sr. Airman Nathan Lipscomb, Kunar Provincial Reconstruction Team)

KABUL, Afghanistan (July 11, 2010)  – In the village of Daridam, agriculture is on the mend after an Afghan-led force ousted a large Taliban presence.

Immediately after the Taliban defeat, the Afghan Border Police, a Coalition task force and a special agriculture and business development team from California’s 40th Infantry Division moved in to deliver relief supplies and assistance to this village in eastern Afghanistan’s Marawara District in Kunar province.

After fierce fighting, residents needed assistance rebuilding the agriculture-based economy.

Assistance began with U.S. Army 1st Sgt. John A. Hanson, agribusiness development team first sergeant, leading a team to make temporary repairs to a water pipe supplying Daridam with water. Meanwhile, Sergeants Scott Flynn and Jason Stevens worked with the Afghan Border Patrol to assess the health of livestock and gauge residents’ needs and concerns.

Flynn and Stevens found that the village’s livestock suffer from malnutrition and parasites, both of which are common in the province. They also assessed a local watershed area, which is subject to periodic flooding that damages crops, and began developing a plan to correct the problem.

“The people of Daridam have obviously been through a lot after having their village occupied by the Taliban,” said Flynn, an agronomist whose civilian job is with the U.S. Forest Service in northern California.

“We were able to talk to a few villagers during our patrol, and they told us they want to start planting,” said Flynn, a scientist who specializes in using plants for food, fuel, feed and fiber. “Our work will help them do that.”

Before departing, police and soldiers delivered agriculture supplies to ensure the village can increase the productivity of their fields and livestock. Among the supplies, were high-quality animal feed, anti-parasite medication, nutritional supplements, high-quality seed, and tools such as pick-axes and shovels.

“Daridam is one of the better areas of Kunar province in terms of its agriculture capabilities,” said Stevens, who when not deployed is a horticulturalist at President Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia. “The supplies we delivered will help them recover more quickly.”

In addition to the supplies, the team coordinated with contractors for additional repairs to irrigation systems. The Afghan Veterinarians Association will also visit Daridam to vaccinate livestock and start a program for a self-sufficient poultry business for the village.