"Handouts or flyers are a great way to connect with locals. They provide our Soldiers with a method to initiate or conclude a conversation while communicating, with words and pictures, the message that we want to send. So far, our flyers have been very well received.In fact, we have to be careful how and where we hand them out; otherwise, we run the risk of overwhelming our security force in its attempt to control crowds."
-Commander, Texas Agribusiness Development Team (ADT)-02
The familiar saying, "It's all about relationships," applies to ADTs achieving success in Afghanistan. Relationships result from a need, a unique experience, or a common bond such as farming. Farmers, regardless of country, race, culture, social and economic status, or language, have a singular focus-growing food for profit. Thus, the ADT farming subject matter experts are uniquely suited for the challenges of enabling the revitalization and modernization of the Afghan farm economy. Figure 4-1 shows this relationship.
IROA: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
USAID: United States Agency for International Development
PRTs: Provincial reconstruction teams
MAIL: Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock
Figure 4-1. Farming relationships
One of the first tasks ADTs must accomplish is to build relationships with those they are in Afghanistan to help. Following are several ways in which the ADTs meet the farmers:
- Key leader engagements (KLEs) with provincial and tribal leaders
- Engagements with local college and university agriculture educators
- ADT information operations contacts
- Evaluation and treatment visits for large animals
- Visits to ADT demonstration farms
Key Leader Engagements
ADT members conduct or participate in KLEs during their tour. KLEs are vital to fostering an environment of mutual respect and trust with Afghan counterparts, aid in learning the provincial agriculture challenges, facilitate the understanding of the provincial government's goals for agriculture development, and provide an understanding of the agricultural education strengths and weaknesses and how the ADT with its reach back to its supporting land grant university can assist. KLEs "open doors" and inform tribal and village leadership on what the ADT can offer local farmers and will greatly assist with developing and executing a comprehensive and sustainable agribusiness campaign plan for the ADT's province.
Keys to a successful KLE
The following techniques will assist ADT members to ensure that KLEs are successful:
- Review and become familiar with the provincial development plan objectives.
- Research the area in advance.
- Determine the meeting time, location, and targeted leaders.
- Conduct route and site reconnaissance.
- Establish and review the team's goals prior to the engagement (i.e., set objectives in an agenda). Translate the agenda into the local language.
- Be open minded without making assumptions.
- Rehearse the agenda with interpreters, and ensure they understand the overall focus for the KLE.
- Encourage and incorporate interagency (U.S. Department of Agriculture, USAID, Department of Defense, PRTs, and nongovernmental organization) partner participation.
- Stay on task during the KLE; avoid going down "rabbit trails."
- Ask specific questions.
- Avoid committing to projects too early; wait until it is certain the project will be approved and funded.
- Remember that the initial meeting will focus on getting to know each other, with a little time for business. Follow-on meetings will focus more on business.
- Keep in mind the translator has to translate messages between the parties attending the meeting. If an hour is allotted for the meeting, it is likely that only 25 percent of the meeting objective will be discussed during the hour.
Working with Local Farmers
Afghan farmers are eager to learn new techniques, but due to years of war, lack of government initiatives, access to financial credit, and security concerns, they harbor a fatalistic view (Inshallah or God willing) of life. In short, they live hand to mouth and do not see the value in planning for tomorrow. Like most people, Afghan farmers want to live in peace, feel secure, and provide for their families. However, they face many challenges when trying to obtain basic necessities such as access to water, power, and roads. As a result, many farmers are left with poor or rotting crop yields and rely on subsistence farming for their survival. Understanding these challenges and working with the provincial Director of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock-who is either the elected or appointed representative of MAIL-to provide quick impact projects will help to overcome this view and teach the Afghans they can reap the fruits of their labor.
The ADT must individually and collectively assess the needs of the local village and the farmers. Figure 4-2 on page 20 is an example of a village assessment tool, which is designed to assist the ADT in conducting a village assessment.
Areas of emphasis
The ADT agriculture team can assist local farms with "quick-win" impact projects such as the following:
- Row cropping and crop rotation
- Improved water management techniques (e.g., drip versus flood irrigation)
- Pest management
- Wheat seed purchase
- Improved fertilizer purchase
- Care and management of large animals
Figure 4-2. Example village assessment tool
Informing the Afghan Populace
The ADT concept is new to Afghanistan, and the local nationals are curious about what the ADTs are doing in their country. Informing local civilians about the ADT mission and team objectives can have a positive impact on the success and security of the operation. Distributing message cards prior to or upon arrival to the project site will inform locals about the mission and aid in establishing a friendly atmosphere at the project site. Figures 4-3, 4-4, and 4-5 are examples of simple (unit-produced) ADT message cards.
Figure 4-3. Sample ADT message card
Figure 4-4. Sample ADT message card
Figure 4-5. Sample ADT project message card
Below is an example of information that can be placed on a message card.
Why is the ADT coming to Nawar district?
The ADT will visit Nawar district soon to meet with agriculture leaders and to start the following projects:
- Nawar demonstration farm. Construct a demonstration farm to experiment with crops, irrigation, and range management to demonstrate and educate local producers. The farm will also provide a local office for an extension agent and veterinary center.
- Nawar livestock center of excellence. The livestock center is intended to produce quality, genetically superior livestock with attributes such as improved milk production, higher birth and weaning weights, resistance to disease and harsh winter conditions, and lower feeding requirements.
Why is the ADT coming to Jaghori district?
The ADT will visit Jaghori district soon to meet with agriculture leaders and to start the following projects:
- Jaghori demonstration farm. Construct a demonstration farm to experiment with crops, irrigation, and range management to demonstrate and educate local producers. The farm will also provide a local office for an extension agent and veterinary center.
- Jaghori water storage and irrigation. Provide a constant water supply to the demonstration farm through a series of pumps and storage tanks. By utilizing head pressure and ram pumps, water supply will be sustainable without wasting fuels and will provide water to the demonstration farm.
- Jaghori fishery. Determine the viability of implementing a fish farm in Jaghori District near the Sang-e-Masha River.