When General David Petraeus first remarked about starting a program which should take hold soon and provide Afghanistan with another product to farm replacing poppy, many supporters and detractors were skeptical and saw this as another in a long line of missteps by this president. The articles below demonstrate just how much effort has been put into this strategy by those who are on the ground and the frontlines of this war. America and Americans are investing more than blood, sweat and tears; they are investing American Know How which in many cases may just be the key to ending this war.
“As the United States struggles to end the longest war in its history in Afghanistan, agriculture is becoming a crucial part of its long-term strategy.” “Donors, government officials and food industry executives say the United States, the world’s most productive grower and exporter of food and fiber, is making progress in efforts to reestablish Afghan agriculture ravaged by decades of war.” “The answer is to equip people to be able to grow their food and feed themselves says Jeff Raikes, chief executive of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.” (Stebbins, Christine, 10/15/2010, Reuters, US hopes to sow Afghan peace with farm recovery, Retrieved from www.alertnet.org). Mr. Raikes has a very valid point about America sharing its knowledge in the industry of agriculture and this philosophy is rooted in the example Jesus demonstrated when he feed the multitude with just five loaves of bread and three fish. Mr. Raikes wishes to take this one step further and not only help to feed the starving but teach them how to feed themselves. History teaches us that a self-serving nation is a self-sufficient one but Reuters is not the only news agency which has come to this conclusion.
“Across the road from his cornfield in Colo, Iowa, family farmer Keith McKinney pulls out his cell phone and checks the latest market prices from the Chicago Board of Trade.” “McKinney can sell his crops when he wants, locking in prices even before they’re planted.” “Watching him with keen interest is Afghan Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asef Rahimi.” “He’s thinking of farmers back home.” “If they can sell corn, potatoes and pomegranates next year and get some advance, they will never do poppies,” he says.” (Dougherty, Jill and Ure, Laurie, 10/17/2010, CNN, In an Iowa cornfield, seeds of hope for Afghan and Pakistani farmers, Retrieved from www.articles.cnn.com) but the challenge according to “U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in poppy production there is very little risk.” “There is no input cost, no transport expense because the product is picked up at the farm gate.” “If you are going to grow pomegranates or grow saffron or apricots, you have to put the crop in, harvest it and transport it. That involves risk.” “Our challenge is to reduce the risk and then make farmers aware of the great reward,” Vilsack said. “We are seeing more and more acceptance.” (Stebbins, Christine, 10/15/2010, Reuters, US hopes to sow Afghan peace with farm recovery, Retrieved from www.alertnet.org). There shall always be a challenge to any idea whose time has come. We wish to make a difference and end this war with the inhabitants better off than when we arrived. Teaching them to provide for themselves in a region torn apart by war could do just that.