With the help of National Guardsmen from Missouri, farmers in Afghanistan are getting out of the poppy and opium industry and heading towards self sustainability. Jessica Machetta has more.
Sen. Kit Bond (R-Missouri) has been a driving force in supporting agriculture efforts in Afghanistan, where he’s working with Agriculture Director Safi Mohammad Hussein.
Bond is hosting Safi in Missouri, where he’s visiting the State Fair, farms, the University of Missouri and more.
Safi, speaking through a translator, says crop production in the Nangarhar Provence is up 25 percent this year because of Missouri’s help. The area is also poppy free. Many farmers have been growing poppies for years to support the illegal opium industry, but Missouri is showing them a different way.
The Guard’s Agri-business Development Team, led by Maj. Denise Wilkinson, is also implementing irrigation systems there using natural aquifers, establishing canneries and cold storage, solar power, roads and more.
Safi thanks them for helping farmers in his country become self sustainable.
He says farmers are now cultivating other viable crops such as wheat, barley, rice, fruit and nuts, even roses, which Safi says they can sell at a higher profit than poppies.
The Guard is teaching them everything from clean slaughter practices to watershed check dam reservoirs, fishing hatchery operations, cattle deworming, insect-free tree cultivation and other practices to sustain a healthy industry that can become a component in the world market.