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
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
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.
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
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.
Jim Green, USDA PRT Ag Advisor - Afghanistan