University promotes self-sufficiency for Afghan agriculture

Fresno State is using its knowledge of agriculture to prepare U.S. military and government personnel for deployment to Afghanistan under a $3 million, two-year contract awarded by the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

The Agricultural Development for Afghanistan Pre-deployment Training (ADAPT) program at Fresno State helps underscore the growing American commitment to help create a more-stable Afghanistan through agricultural self-sufficiency and food security.

The curriculum is designed to provide instruction on the main crop and livestock components that make up Afghanistan farming environments and discuss opportunities for improvement. The goal is to establish sustainable agricultural systems in various parts of the country where four of every five people are engaged in agriculture.

Fresno State is the lead campus in a consortium whose other members are California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo, Southern Illinois University and Colorado State University.

The central San Joaquin Valley produces many of the same crops that are grown in Afghanistan, such as pomegranates, pistachios, almonds, grapes, melons, apricots, cherries and figs. Many agro-climatic characteristics between the two regions are nearly identical, giving trainees a good idea of what they’ll face in Afghanistan.

“Fresno State is uniquely well-suited to offer agricultural training that is specific to the needs of the Afghan people,” said Dr. Bill Erysian, the program architect and coordinator of grants and international projects for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. He serves as principal investigator on the project under the guidance of the Center for Agricultural Business at Fresno State.

“ADAPT training emphasizes agricultural knowledge and country-specific issues that will give U.S. personnel the tools needed to implement their mission of creating a more stable Afghanistan through economic development, governance and agricultural sustainability,” Erysian said.

During the two-year contract period, the consortium anticipates 24 workshops will train approximately 750 individuals. Workshop sessions will be customized to offer a greater understanding of agricultural issues for the specific region of Afghanistan to which trainees will be deployed.

During the week of Jan. 23, Fresno State will host the first ADAPT training session in 2012. Trainees will be representatives from the 11th Marines Civil Affairs Group, the Army 401st Civil Affairs Battalion, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Fresno State for the past two years has provided similar training to Marines Corps Civil Affairs detachments deploying to southern Afghanistan. ADAPT represents a considerable expansion of the type of training provided to the Marines, both in content and in the increased number of participants and instructors.

ADAPT is designed to be an integral part of broader training that U.S. personnel receive in preparation for working in Afghanistan.

For more information, contact Erysian at 559.278.5115 or bille@csufresno.edu.

(Copy by University Communications news intern Nicole Maul)

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