News: PRT, Iraqi scholars teach farming techniques
Story by Spc. David Strayer
CONTIGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – Members of the Salah Ad Din Provincial Reconstruction Team, in partnership with 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, and Iraqi scholars, worked to educate local Iraqi farmers and provide micro-grants to stimulate local economic growth during a meeting at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq, Nov. 8.
“The whole purpose of the PRT is to work with local farmers in the agricultural area of the Jalaan Desert to equip them with the education and financial means to enable them to have both immediate and long term success,” said 1st Lt. David Tyson of Company B, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Reg., 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div.
Scholars from the University of Tikrit, specialized in veterinary medicine, and Hussein Iswead Ali, director general of the Agriculture Extension Center of Tikrit, were invited to the meeting to provide local Iraqi farmers with the knowledge needed to sustain long-tem success in husbandry and the raising of crops.
The PRT in collaboration with 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div. provided grants to the farmers to stimulate local economic growth.
Tyson, a Savannah, Ga. native, said the grants directly improve the quality of life for the farmer and by stimulating the local economy indirectly improve the quality of living for the entire area.
“It is all about helping to improve the quality of life,” said Tyson. “Some of the best ways to accomplish this are through education and stimulating those who provide life-sustaining services such as agriculture and husbandry, and watch the effects trickle down through the local economies.”
In the past, micro-grants were often handed out to recipients who lacked the knowledge to use the funds effectively.
To solve the situation, U.S. forces have taken a step back, giving Iraqi experts the driver’s seat.
Tyson said the 1st Bn. 27th Inf. Reg. and PRT coordinated the event and provided the grants but let Iraqis take the lead in showing the farmers the most efficient ways to use their funds.
“We are simply here to facilitate a platform for the Iraqi experts to educate the farmers,” said 1st Lt. James Booth, Company B, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Reg., 2nd AAB, 25th Inf. Div.
Booth, who hails from Bucksport, Maine, went on to add that it is important to better educate the locals rather than just hand out grants.
He said it is one thing to have financial means, and another thing completely to have knowledge to effectively utilize them.
Professor Ziyad Tariq al Doori, the assistant dean of administration at the University of Tikrit Veterinary College, spoke at the event.
Tariq said his primary goal was to make a presentation to the local Iraqi farmers about the importance of good husbandry, and how to take a proactive stance on fighting disease within flocks to minimize needless loss of livestock.
“We really want to guide farmers in economic ways and proper management of livestock,” Tariq said.
Tariq added that there is much more to husbandry than just putting up fences and filling feed buckets.
He said farmers need to learn about the different diseases that livestock can be subjected to, learning how to prevent sickness and death, to more efficiently manage their herds.
“Once we are able to improve the quality of life and education on a very small, localized level, we will begin to see a correlation with the quality of life and economy in more widespread areas being improved,” said Tyson.