Special Representative Holbrooke and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Discuss Trip to Afghanistan

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
February 4, 2010

Today, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed the top non-security priority in Afghanistan -- agriculture. Redeveloping the agriculture sector is a critical part of the Obama Administration and President Karzai's strategy for the future of the country. Eighty percent of Afghans either make their living or their livelihoods from agriculture or something connected to agriculture.

Ambassador Holbrooke said, "Our goal is nothing less than to help Afghanistan restore its agricultural sector to the vibrant export economy that it once had."

Secretary Vilsack recently visited Afghanistan to see the progress being made in this important area. During his visit, Secretary Vilsack met with Afghanistan's Agriculture Minister Asif Rahimi, who outlined his framework for progress in Afghan agriculture. The framework includes four strategies: (1) the need to increase productivity among the Afghans; (2) the need to reinvigorate the Afghan agribusiness, the ability to get the supply chain in place to allow the domestic market needs to be met and at the same time to create export opportunities; (3) a commitment to renew their natural resources; and (4) the need to bolster the Agriculture Ministry.

While in Afghanistan, Secretary Vilsack met with Afghan farmers and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives working with local Afghans. He underscored the commitment of all those serving in Afghanistan and honored USDA employee Tom Stefani, a forester who was killed in Afghanistan.

Secretary Vilsack said, "[T]here are many different uniforms that are being worn in Afghanistan. And all the people who serve us in uniform, regardless of whether it's the forest service uniform or the USDA uniform or a military uniform, put themselves on the line to make a difference. And they understand and appreciate the importance not just to the people of Afghanistan but also the people of the United States to this effort."

Both Special Representative Holbrooke and Secretary Vilsack spoke about U.S. efforts to eradicate poppy cultivation and the need to establish a formalized credit process. Secretary Vilsack discussed how U.S. assistance is providing incentives for wheat cultivation to encourage Afghan farmers to grow alternatives to poppy, but Afghans are still faced with tough decisions.

Secretary Vilsack said, "Our effort is trying to speak to the people in the middle of all of this, whose only thought is, 'How do I take care of my family? How do I take care of myself?' And the Taliban, as long as there is opium production, have a hook on those folks. They have the ability to control their livelihood. Given a choice, they don't want that choice. They would prefer another alternative. They would prefer to be able to produce wheat or pomegranates or apples or almonds or whatever. We have to give them that choice and we have to give it to them in a way that makes economic sense."

Secretary Vilsack continued, "To put a phrase on it, from my discussions with regular Afghans, I think they would much rather be farmers than fighters."

Read the transcript of the full briefing here.

Comments

Comments

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 9, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

Apples are ok.....but...

The marble and gems from the North are trafficked into Pakistan to finance terrorism. An apple a day won't cure this illcit traffick...USAID should ramp up the Mining Industry to keep the resources and funds in Afghan hands.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
February 12, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Just heard about the avalanche that killed over 100 in Afghanistan, and I hope ISAF/US is helping with the Med. evac. and recovery.

Folks in DC arn't the only one's experiencing "snowmaggeddon".

Perhaps DOD could donate a couple 105mm howitzers to do what is done in Colorado and elsewhere to mitigate avalanche danger by triggering them in a controlled manner before they cost lives.

---

Very glad to see that State and Agriculture are going into the tree planting buisiness as it is one of the best ways of planting hope for the future.

30 years from now when the hills are green, folks there will tell their grandkids, "We were thinking of you when we re-planted all this."

Tom Stefani's sacrifice will not be in vain.

It personally saddens me to see a fellow lose his life trying to make manifest an idea that I've been pushing to see happen for a long time now on Dipnote.

Thanks to all those that have considered what I've had to say on the matter in many posts on this blog.

EJ

Ron
|
New York, USA
February 16, 2010

Ron in New York writes:

When you are in a hole......

This post is not about agriculture in Afghanistan; it is about the killing of 12 civilians in the strike on Marja in Helmand. You know, we could have taken out the Opium centeres nearly 10 years ago, and not via subcontract with Dyncorp......We needed to take out Karzai....What is wrong with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah?...This post is not abour Afghan apples...I'm sure they are sweet....It is about the hole we are in; and why we keep digging.

Susan
|
Louisiana, USA
February 26, 2010

Susan in Louisiana writes:

Vilsack is leading the way for the Trojan horse to be escorted to the Afghan people. That Trojan horse as it affects agriculture is Monsanto's patented DNA of foreign organisms into seeds used to plant crops. Under contract, if the farmers plant the seeds, they will have to sign a contract with Monsanto to purchase the seeds year after year forever, and forever purchase Monsanto's toxic herbicides, such as Roundup.

This is the same thing that occurred in Iraq, and was part of the reason we went to war with the Iraqi people (the other being oil and to take out Saddam Hussein).

Glyphosate is deemed to be the active ingredient of Roundup by Monsanto, but some of the proprietary secret ingredients hidden as inerts on the label, are even more toxic. Independent of Monsanto scientific studies
have linked the spontaneous abortions and human cell death that is occurring wherever levels of Roundup are used in agriculture. Other studies have identified immune system damage to earthworms and beneficial organisms, frogs, fish, and possibly people.

Farmers and farming communities have a high rate of non-Hodgkins lymphoma than the general population in North America, and this will increase around the world, and into Afghanistan if the farmers sign this toxic agreement for the Trojan horse.

This is a bad trade policy, just as it is a bad agricultural practice in the USA, where the people are kept controlled and ignorant by propaganda!

BTW, Roundup has also been linked to Attention Deficit Disorders in children, according to some independent of Monsanto, scientific studies.

But the USDA and Monsanto don't care, they are only interested in sustaining Monsanto rather than protecting health and life. It's a control factor.

Eileen
|
Louisiana, USA
February 28, 2010

Elleen in Louisiana writes:

I agree with Susan, Vilsack is leading the way for the Trojan horse to be escorted to the Afghan people. This Trojan horse, as it affects agriculture, is Monsanto's patented DNA of foreign organisms which are genetically modified into seeds for crops. Under contract, when the farmers plant these seeds, they are mandated to sign a contractual agreement with Monsanto to purchase the seeds year after year forever instead of using their own seeds. And, they must also forever purchase Monsanto's toxic herbicides, such as Roundup (glyphosate).

This is the same thing that occurred in Iraq, and was part of the reasons the Corporate Presidency of Bush and Cheney took us to war with the Iraqi people (the others being oil and to take out Saddam Hussein, which Bush's father put into office in the first place).

Glyphosate is deemed to be the active poison of Roundup according to Monsanto, but some of the proprietary secret ingredients are even more toxic, including POEA. Independent of Monsanto scientific studies have linked polyoxyethyleneamine [POEA] to spontaneous abortions and human cell death at levels below what is currently sprayed on agriculture. Other studies have identified genetic and immune system damage to earthworms and beneficial organisms, frogs, fish. It has also been linked to genetic damage in cattle.

The surfactant present in the commercial solution, polyoxyethyleneamine, is an anionic surfactant, and may be responsible for many of these effects. Surfactants alone may cause circulatory failure, respiratory failure, seizures, generalized edema, and gastric erosion in people exposed to or ingesting the herbicide, possibly through their food and water.

In studies of rats, skeletal alterations were observed in the offspring of fed glyphosate-Roundup(R) during pregnancy.

Farmers and farming communities have a high rate of non-Hodgkins lymphoma than the general population in North America and this is linked to both Roundup and another herbicide, 2,4-D.

This is a bad trade policy, just as it is a bad agricultural practice in the USA, where the people are kept controlled and ignorant by propaganda and where there was once Democracy but no longer!! Now, a Monsanto lobbyist is in charge of food safety at the Obama-Vilsack USDA. There are Monsanto people throughout the Obama administration and as their trade representatives, just as there were during the Bush-Cheney Administration and the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Beware of American corporations and the U.S. government bearing gifts. Monsanto owns 97% of polychlorinated biphenyls, which are in the bodies of every living being on the planet and is contributing to all sorts of health damage from developmental disorders to immune system damage to cancers, and this corporation knew about the health damaging effects but kept the victims and their physicians ignorant.

I suggest that like the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanastan is being fought to help Monsanto gain a strong hold in that country. This corporation acts like Big Brother of George Orwell's book, 1984. And, by owning the DNA of the seeds used to grow food, they can control the world!!!

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