Afghanistan is largely a nation of farmers. Despite the fact that only about 12 percent of the country's mountainous terrain is arable, agriculture employs some three fourths of the Afghan population and accounts for around 45 percent of the gross domestic product. But decades of war and periods of drought have devastated the farmers. Today, Afghanistan is a nation that cannot feed itself without foreign aid.
Revitalizing Afghanistan's agricultural sector is critical to stabilizing the country. To that end, the United States has initiated the Agri-Business Development Team; a program that connects Afghan farmers with U.S. National Guard soldiers with a farming background, with the eventual goal of modernizing agricultural practices and increasing food production in Afghanistan.
The teams are made up of volunteers from units in the agricultural U.S. states of Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana, Tennessee, Kansas and Kentucky and Nebraska. Each team consists of about 50 specialists in various fields, from hydrology, veterinary medicine, and crop storage to plant disease identification, crop fertilization and chicken and livestock husbandry.
In little more than a year, when the first group was deployed in Nangarhar Province, the Agri-Business Development Teams have built a slaughter facility, developed a juicing and canning facility and improved livestock health through mobile veterinary clinics. They are working to improve irrigation systems and other infrastructure necessary to agriculture; and to develop effective methods of planting, fertilizing, harvesting, marketing and storing agricultural crops while teaching new methods to farmers whose traditional methods have not changed in hundreds of years.
The United States has made a long-term commitment to help Afghanistan rebuild itself after years of war. The U.S., along with others in the international community, currently provides resources and expertise to Afghanistan in a variety of areas, including humanitarian relief and assistance, capacity-building, security needs, counter-narcotic programs, and infrastructure projects.
The United States and its international partners remain committed to helping Afghans realize their vision for a country that is stable, democratic, and economically successful, and to an Afghan government committed to the protection of women's rights, human rights, and religious tolerance