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Jim Green, Stationed in Afghanistan, Sends Letter to NRCS Family

Jim Green, Stationed in Afghanistan, Sends Letter to NRCS Family

In February 2008, Jim Green, NRCS District Conservationist in Idabel, Oklahoma, went to Afghanistan on a 13-month detail as part of the USDA’s commitment to help rebuild agriculture and food security in Afghanistan. Part of Green’s mission is to help provide technical assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan’s agricultural sector.

The following is a “Letter Home” he recently wrote to his NRCS family and friends.

Jim Green (left) is an NRCS DC, who was selected to be a USDA Ag Advisor.
Jim Green, left, is a NRCS District Conservationist in Idabel, Oklahoma. In February, Green was selected as one of 13 USDA Agricultural Advisors to join Provincial Reconstruction Teams on 13-month deployment, serving in Afghanistan. Since May 2003, 37 experts from USDA have served as Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Agricultural Advisors in Afghanistan.

As an agriculture advisor, NRCS Oklahoma employee Jim Green (right) helps enable, support, and foster reconstruction of the agricultural sector
As an agriculture advisor, NRCS Oklahoma employee Jim Green (right) helps enable, support, and foster reconstruction of the agricultural sector, and helps build the ability of the Afghan central government to support and provide services to the agricultural sector. Green spends time mentoring the provincial directors of agriculture to help them improve their services to farmers. To effectively assist, train, and demonstrate techniques to Afghan farmers and agriculture officials, USDA PRT advisors travel in the field as part of military units of 50-100 personnel with 2-3 civilian U.S. Government advisors.

One of the goals of the USDA in Afghanistan is to rebuild agricultural markets and conserve biological diversity, which is done in part by strengthening the Afghan Government’s capacity to manage and protect forests and rangelands, and watersheds. It is in this area that Jim Green's expertise as a natural resource conservationist is most effectively utilized.
One of the goals of the USDA in Afghanistan is to rebuild agricultural markets and conserve biological diversity, which is done in part by strengthening the Afghan Government’s capacity to manage and protect forests and rangelands, and watersheds. It is in this area that Jim Green's expertise as a natural resource conservationist is most effectively utilized.

April 16, 2008

Dear NRCS Family and Friends,

Just thought I would let you all know that your tax dollars are at work in Afghanistan. If you have been to Reno and Las Vegas, Nevada there are a lot of similarities. The snow capped mountains are beautiful. Irrigation is big here, producing unbelievable wheat and vegetables. I am at about 4000 ft. elevation but the mountains go to 12,500 ft. elevation.

I get to go up in helicopter often and there are some beautiful sites to be seen but I also have never seen as much landscape degradation. It is really sad to see as much soil erosion and sediment out there. The scenes remind me of the old soil scientist from the 30's to early 50's (Dr. Loudermilk) describing how bad the land of Israel was.

The people are very poor here. They lack so much that sometimes you wonder where to start. I have begun a good working relationship with the Provincial Agriculture Director. The job is fun and very life experiencing. I have met people from all over the world through the UN, NATO, Contractors, NGO's and etc. I especially enjoy visiting with the local farmers and hearing their plights.

As for workload, there is nothing else to do but work. So I work 12 hours each day, seven days a week. There is always a mission to go on with the troops and that is when I get to see the country side. If the Afghan government would allow, of which they do not, and if my wife would allow, of which she would not, I would take about 10 of the little Afghan children home with me. They really get to your heart.

Our PRT (Provincial Reconstruction Team) is made up of National Guard, Regular Army, Army Reserve, Air Force, Marines, and a few Navy. They are all a good bunch of people and hard workers. I am one of the oldest of the PRT, but I am keeping up with the best of them. At chow hall they have a TV going, and the youngsters, as I call them, were watching World Federation Wrestling and you would think it was for real. I wanted to stand up and tell them it was fake, but I figured I would get thrown out. This younger generation is something.

I go on missions at least three times a week throughout the Province. There are still some places we cannot get to due to security risk. Each week we stretch out more with security and offer assistance to work with the locals. There have been a few incidents but nothing big. I am conscious of the fact there are bad people out there, but I don't let it burden me to the point that I can't or won’t get outside the wire.
Pakistan buys all the produce that Afghans can produce and then takes it over to Pakistan to put it in cold storage and then resell back to the people of Afghanistan for exceptional profit. It's a rip-off. We are working with the Afghan locals through the Director of Ag and Growers Association to construct a Cold Storage Facility, a one-of-a-kind here, to break the cycle and to stretch their markets at a higher level of profit.

Also, I am in process of developing a hand crafted seeder/fertilizer spreader for locals. Once I get it fashioned, I am going to get the local prisoners to make it for the farmers. It is made of a two gallon lard bucket, wood and two bolts, washers, nuts. Every item we come up with must be sustainable whereby the locals can produce themselves.

This has been a wonderful experience so far. I have rambled enough and hope this letter finds you all doing well. Please share this with others in NRCS family. I do miss you all and tell everyone I said hello.

Thanks,

Jim Green, USDA PRT Ag Advisor - Afghanistan

By Dee Ann Littlefield, public affairs specialist, Waurika, OK
NRCS April 2008

Last Modified: 04/23/2008

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