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KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan - The 2nd Battalion, 19th Infantry Agribusiness Development Team worked with the Sabari district governor to facilitate irrigation and compost training for 105 farmers June 1-3.
The two courses were taught by an Afghan ADT cultural advisor to minimize the military presence at the district center.
“Having two weeks of preparation time with the district governor and Sabari civil affairs officer contributed to the success of training,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Umbarger, from Dana, Ind., 2nd Bn., 19th Inf. ADT noncommissioned officer in charge.
Both courses incorporated techniques and tools that are easily duplicated on either large or small scale with tools purchased from the local bazaar. Sabari farmers who attended the training were given a gravity-fed, drip irrigation system starter kit and composting tools.
“The farmers were very appreciative of the training and the tools they were given,” said an ADT interpreter.
The first course, composting, taught the benefits of recycling organic materials to create a fertilizer that increases the soil nutrient levels, in turn improving crops. Additionally, the compost acts as a soil conditioner and as a natural pesticide, said Umbarger.
Following the composting course, the team taught the benefits of the gravity-fed, drip irrigation system. It uses a water storage bucket or barrel and a series of tubes with small slats to slowly water rows of crops. This system is particularly good for vegetable and flower gardens.
“I have seen the (system) set up in other areas of Khost province, and we hope to bring that capability to Sabari farmers,” said Umbarger.
Overall, the training was well attended, thanks in part to the support of the district governor, said 1st Lt. David Tressler, from Chicago, Ill., Khost Provincial Reconstruction Team Sabari civil affairs officer.
“The governor recorded a radio announcement, which got the word out and brought additional farmers to the district center,” Tressler said.
With the overwhelming success of the training, the ADT plans to have more courses at the district center.
“Some things locals have voiced to us while on patrol, such as grain storage and animal husbandry, have already been put in the works, and we hope to bring them to Sabari in the near future” said Umbarger.
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