A Nebraska National Guard unit has returned, after spending a year helping Afghanistan farmers learn better agricultural techniques.
The Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Team Number 3 returned Thursday to the National Guard’s Joint Force Headquarters at the Lincoln Airport.
Major David Cooper of Lincoln led the team, which didn’t just help Afghan farmers grow better crops, but helped them store those crops once harvested.
“Prior to the efforts from the U.S. military and Department of Agriculture that food would just end up going to waste, because they just couldn’t sell it before it would spoil,” according to Cooper.
Cooper says Afghan farmers actually have been using modern farming methods for years, though he says some still broadcast seed rather than plant crops in rows. The need in Afghanistan, according to Cooper, is about what to do once the crops are grown. That’s when storage and marketing come into play.
The idea behind the Agribusiness Development Teams is to turn Afghanistan away from growing poppy. The Taliban has used the opium trade to raise the money needed to fund its terrorist activities.
Cooper says his team worked with local farmers to get more out of their land and to help their country bolster its agricultural industry.
A year abroad done, Cooper says he’s glad to be back with his family.
“Yes, it’s great to be home.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:40]