By MND-C PAOJune 9, 2008
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - As Iraq transitions from security to rebuilding, the arrival and integration of the Borlaug Institute of Texas A&M University Agricultural Team will help in developing Iraqi agriculture.
Team Borlaug will conduct assessments, provide technical training, conduct problem-solving research, formulate agriculture policy and advise local, provincial and national level leaders on improving the Iraqi agricultural economy over the next six months.
"The agricultural industry in this area is vital for employment and economic development. Currently, the local capacity isn't being maximized," said Col. Jefforey Smith, Multi-National Division - Center deputy commanding general for support. "Team Borlaug brings a wealth of educational and practical experience to bear - focusing their considerable energy and skill sets necessary to make improvements not just in production, but distribution, science and technology - to leverage what this area has to offer."
The team first became active in Iraq when university graduates serving in civil affairs units began to contact them asking for advice with certain issues.
In February 2007, a team called Task Force for Business Stabilization Operations conducted an assessment of agriculture by visiting a number of forward operating bases in MND-C's area of operations.
"For Iraqi agriculture to rebound in the short run and rebuild in the long run, it is vital that people are there who can directly demonstrate the advantages of modern agricultural methods and policies over previous unsuccessful methods and policies," said Dr. Edwin Price, team leader for Team Borlaug.
The Borlaug Institute has been the heart of many such operations in countries throughout the world. They have had a presence in Rwanda for eight years with their most successful accomplishment being rebuilding and regenerating coffee plantations which were left to ruin. In Ethiopia, Team Borlaug has been working with livestock health and meat safety, enabling them to export to other countries; in Guatemala, they are working on small scale farming.
"It is something that we have taken to heart, that world hunger is a problem . . . communities must be assisted for development," Price said.
"It has been a group effort from a lot of different people getting Team Borlaug here, and I think we are set up for success," said Lt. Col. Bruce Baker, economics officer for MND-C.
The objectives of MND-C and Team Borlaug are very similar, to include measurable results in a sustainable Iraqi agricultural development program including agricultural financing, loan programs, crop insurance and market development.
"We're very excited about Team Borlaug being here," Smith said. "As individuals, they are all motivated, experienced and dedicated to developing these capacities in growing countries. When you pool their collective talent and see the potential they see in the areas lying between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, you know there is an opportunity to make a huge difference for the Iraqi people."
"We can only try to match their [service members] valor by doing what we can as a compliment to their efforts," Price said. "We look forward to being your partners."