Keeping the hoop dreams alive
November 24, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, IraqAca,!" Among the empty and now barren fields outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, there are oasisAca,!a,,c of greenery and life even as the temperature in the area is dipping lower with the onset of winter.
These oases are known as Aca,!A"hoop housesAca,!A? and are similar to American-style greenhouses and with the help of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, they are becoming a regular sight in the province.
Two farmers from the province both received almost $6 million Iraqi dinars Aca,!"approximately $5,000 Aca,!" from 2BCT in the form of micro-grants to help them establish new hoop houses, Nov. 18.
These hoop houses provide the ideal climate for many of the regionAca,!a,,cs most profitable produce, including tomatoes, cucumbers and okra, explained Shwan Tahir Hussein, one of the two farmers.
Shwan, who already operates six hoop houses, will be using the money to build a seventh.
Aca,!A"This is going to help me move to the next level of my business,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"An optimal hoop house can grow plants 12 months a year. Right now, I am growing cucumbers in mine, but for farmers outside, the season ended long ago.Aca,!A?
Shwan has been a major source of encouragement for local farmers who show an interest in operating a hoop house. He often goes and helps farmers construct them, and he also assists them with tips on how to properly operate the hoop houses.
Aca,!A"If someone is willing to learn how to use it, they can really benefit from it,Aca,!A? Shwan said.
If you walk through a market in Kirkuk, you will see that many of the products there Aca,!" including the produce Aca,!" are from outside of Iraq, explained Lt. Col. Hugh McNeely, the deputy commanding officer of 2BCT.
These hoop houses help provide local farmers with a chance to compete by being able to grow products year round, Lt. Col. McNeely added.
Aca,!A"Most of the people in this province are working in agriculture,Aca,!A? Lt. Col. McNeely said. Aca,!A"The agriculture industry is the largest in the province, and most families outside Kirkuk city are relying on it.Aca,!A?
By helping bring more hoop houses into this province, the brigade is planting a seed that shows the people here a new way to improve their profitability and efficiency, he explained.
According to Lt. Col. McNeely, the hoop houses work well in this area, because they preserve water by preventing the evaporation that would occur in a normal outdoor field. Many of the farmers in this province are still using the antiquated flood irrigation technique, which wastes copious amounts of water, but the farmers using hoop houses use a much more efficient form of drip irrigation that wastes almost no water.
For the two farmers who received the micro-grants, a new planting season is just around the corner, and with any luck, they will have brand new hoop houses just in time for it.