PULLMAN, Wash. – The Washington State University International Agricultural Development (IAD) office and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are hosting 12 representatives of the Afghanistan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock through Sept. 30.
The visit is part of an executive management-fellowship program for mid-to-senior-level Afghan ministry leaders. Representatives will observe agricultural research and extension services at the national and state level and learn how to apply their findings to the Afghan system.
 
The visit is a key opportunity to complement WSU’s continuing programs in Afghanistan, said Chris Pannkuk, WSU IAD director.
 
University personnel worked directly with the Afghan Ministry of Higher Education to provide resources for quality education and online learning. As a result, Afghanistan’s public university enrollment expanded.
 
Thirty-five percent of the additional students were female.
The program will demonstrate how WSU and the USDA deliver services to producers and consumers across the United States. The training includes a study tour of the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the Agricultural Research Service in Beltsville, Md.; WSU’s Pullman campus; and county Farm Service Centers throughout the state.
In Afghanistan, WSU researchers have provided training to produce and market saffron as an alternative cash crop, identify alternative agricultural systems to poppy production in Laghman Province, and install meteorological stations to help rebuild the government’s capacity to carry out agricultural research in Afghanistan.
 
“WSU has been working in Afghanistan for nine years. We have a commitment to help bring about change through capacity-building that will reach out to the small land-holding farmers in rural Afghanistan,” Pannkuk said. “Not unlike working in Jordan for the last 35 years and Malawi for the last 25 years, we are committed to a long-term relationship.”
 
Through the visit, Afghan leaders will:
• Develop a better understanding of how the USDA is structured, is managed, and communicates and coordinates with the U.S. Congress, the White House Office of Management and Budget, the private sector, consumers and other key stakeholders.
• Learn about the USDA’s budgeting process through Office of Budget and Program Analysis briefings, emphasizing how funding mechanisms ensure USDA programs are implemented through state and county USDA offices nationwide.
• Gain knowledge through meetings with WSU’s partners on campus and throughout the state and learn how the USDA relies on applied research to enhance its ability to deliver modern and improved services for domestic farmers and agribusinesses.
• Meet with WSU personnel to learn about research and educational agricultural programs that provide technical information relating to product production and marketing, develop and manage consumer science and youth development activities, and regulate responsibilities for postharvest handling of agricultural products.
• See in action how WSU’s extension system is a cooperative undertaking of federal, state and county governments. The representatives also will visit an agricultural county’s Farm Service Center to observe how the system enhances technology transfer.