Program Brings Agri-Education To Afghan Farmers

Sunday, October 20, 2013
Kabul (BNA) Most farmers grow enough to sustain their family and have seed for the following season. 
Having reliable, safe agricultural practices is vital to the country.
The Purdue Afghanistan program aims to improve sanitation, education and extension efforts in the country through a variety of projects.
“What we did around 11 years ago is look for ways to engage with the higher education system there, to help rebuild education,” said Kevin McNamara, professor of agricultural economics and assistant director of International Programs in Agriculture.
“The last 10 years there have been an awful lot of improvements, but they still have a long way to go.”
Several Purdue colleges, not just the College of Agriculture, have helped support Afghanistan after the Taliban collapsed. The need for a new infrastructure, new buildings and education was evident after years of war and economic unrest.
“Purdue has played a big role in it,” McNamara noted.
“They’ve supported over 100 Afghans for M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Indiana at Purdue. Fifteen or so of our faculty have gone over to Afghanistan to provide some type of short-term training.”
Around 100 Afghans also have studied on campus for short term training.
“I went to Afghanistan with support from (the U.S. Department of Agriculture) to help the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture program the funds that were given under the leadership of Jim Mosley,” McNamara explained.” I spent about two years there working with the College of Agriculture there to begin the process of rebuilding.”
Two buildings were renovated at Kabul University. New roofs, windows, water systems electrical systems and heating cost around $2.5 million.
Agricultural development remains a focal point of the Purdue Afghanistan Program.
Three full-time Purdue staff members are stationed in Herat, Afghanistan. 
They focus on training Afghan Extension about technology to farms.
“It’s a project in the Ministry of Agriculture to improve their food safety capacity.  It focuses on training employees in the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Public Health in the general area of food safety and how to promote and monitor food safety.”
The project involves Purdue faculty going to the country to teach short-term courses.

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