Iowa ADT inks deal for orchard training farm
February 8, 2011
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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Feb. 8, 2011) -- The Iowa National Guard's 734th Agribusiness Development Team signed an agreement Feb. 1 with a successful local fruit producer to develop a new orchard training farm north of Asadabad.
Master Sgt. Bill Dunbar, value-added processing specialist for the ADT, said the agreement came with unusual speed because the fruit producer, Haji Hazrat Ali Gull, already owns a highly-productive, 13-acre citrus orchard about five miles north of the proposed new farm site.
Moreover, Gull has already made substantial improvements at the location of the planned new orchard.
"When we went out to the proposed site the first time, Hazrat showed us the well, cistern and irrigation system he had already installed at his own expense," Dunbar said. "It wasn't cheap, either. We estimate he spent more than $12,000 of his own money to put those improvements in."
According to Gull, he wants the ADT's help in developing his land as a teaching aid so the young people of Kunar can emulate his success.
"After this orchard is planted, I want to conduct training here for high school students in Kunar on fruit production," Gull said. "If the people of Kunar are ever going to improve their situation, they must be able produce things of value that others wish to buy from them," he added. "My greatest desire is to teach the high school students how to be productive in life."
To Dunbar, Gull represents "the best of Kunar agriculture," and among "the best of people" in general.
"Here's a guy who's already done plenty without us," Dunbar said. "When he told me he wanted to help high school students do what he's done, I figured we could find a way to help him."
The plan for the orchard site, Dunbar explained, is to provide Gull with fruit saplings and a greenhouse to develop additional saplings. At the same time, the ADT will work with Kunar educational officials to create an orchard training program at the farm. However, Dunbar noted, the training will begin immediately.
"I'm anxious to get the first trees, because planting those will be the first educational activity for high school students at the farm," Dunbar said. "The sooner we get going on this the better."