Wednesday, June 5
Provincial Reconstruction Teams are wrapping up their work in the provinces of Afghanistan and saying farewells. US Army Spc Brian Smith-Dutton writes a beautiful article for Clarksville Online about the agriculture PRT in Khowst.
“Our emphases has been row planting, basic crop rotation, soil management for pest control, animal care, crop selection, green house management and low tunnel green house development,” said US Army Major Gregory Motz.
The team convinced some Afghan farmers that planting corn in rows would produce a larger crop. And one young Afghan farmer had a wager with his father over rows - and by the end of the season could show that rows produced more corn with half the seed.
In the article, Motz described the work as the best job he's had in the Army. "To be able to see the progress the Afghans have made in a year and know that it isn’t because we did it for them, but with them."
Fear of Beauty tells the story of a fictional Provincial Reconstruction Team, struggling to provide similar agriculture advice in a remote part of northern Helmand Province - and of course, one of the characters is keen on wheat. And as Motz suggests, the most successful team members are those who focus on "working with" rather than "did it for them."
Photo of corn field in Afghanistan, no rows, courtesy of 1stLt Kurt Stahl, US Marines and Wikimedia Commons; corn field row in Indiana, courtesy of Huw Williams (Huwmanbeing) and Wikimedia Commons.