Taking the Afghan Fight to the Farm
By INDIRA A.R. LAKSHMANAN
Published: August 25, 2009
SEDALIA, MISSOURI — A mission to defeat the Taliban was under way this month amid the funnel cakes, corn dogs and a giant purple robot strolling the midway at the state fair in Sedalia, Missouri.
Mohammad Hussein Safi, an Afghan agriculture official, toured the commodities exhibition building, stockyards and greenhouses to learn techniques for improving grain yields and animal husbandry back in his home province of Nangarhar.
Rebuilding Afghanistan’s shattered agrarian economy is fundamental to President Barack Obama’s strategy of stabilizing the country and turning around an increasingly deadly war that claimed a record 76 U.S. and allied casualties last month. In areas where security and agriculture have improved, opium-poppy cultivation has fallen. If that can be achieved nationwide, the Taliban insurgency would lose a major source of revenue, and Mr. Obama could reassure a Congress dubious of investing more in aid where past programs have failed.
“We can’t succeed in Afghanistan if the Afghan people aren’t successful in agriculture,” says Otto J. Gonzalez, a farming adviser to Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Read More
Agriculture is the basis on which all societies and cultures succeed or fail. Without a successful agricultural base on which to build, your country will be hungry. At that point, nothing else really matters. In order to bring peace back into the country of Afghanistan, their fields will need to grow food rather than drugs. Afghanistan realizes that after all they have been through. I wish some people in this country could realize that as well.