Daily News Editorial
Yes, the Iowa National Guard is quite literally bending its swords into plowshares by helping farmers in Afghanistan rebuild their farm economy.
What’s unique about the Iowa Guard’s efforts is that soldiers are turning Afghan farmers away from growing opium poppies and instead encouraging them to grow legitimate crops. The Taliban, which encourages farmers to grow poppies for opium, sells the opium to buy weapons that are used against coalition troops.
Former Iowa Gov. and current U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack this week said a 60-person agribusiness team will go to Afghanistan this summer, replacing a California team.
Vilsack said the U.S. and Afghanistan have agreed on a plan for Afghanistan agriculture which includes increasing productivity, protecting natural resources, rebuilding the country’s ag marketing system and restructuring the country’s ag ministry.
The Iowa agriculture team will include experts in agronomy, pest management, veterinary science, engineering and forestry. They’ll also get support from ISU ag experts.
”We saw people began to see that there was a much easier and better way to grow legitimate crops that their families could use, their neighbors could use and that they could actually ultimately sell outside Afghanistan to produce wealth,” Vilsack said.
Although Afghanistan is primarily known for growing wheat, Vilsack said it could grow a number of other crops, including pomegranates, grapes, apples and oranges.
A couple of phrases are common among military strategists in both Iraq and Afghanistan – “clear and hold” and “winning the hearts and minds of the people”. Rebuilding Afghanistan’s ag economy is a great way to convince the Afghan people that the U.S. has their interests at heart.
And who could better show them how to improve their ag economy than people from Iowa.
It’s a great plan – one that could turn world opinion in favor of rather than against America.
In fact, it could permanently change the course of world history.