Story by Staff Sgt. Paul Evans
July 31, 2012
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan — “I think you could call it a home run in our district,” said Chief Warrant Officer Scott Goode, a 53-year-old native of Versailles, Ky. Goode serves as the ag team leader for Kandahar province’s Arghandab district with Kentucky National Guard’s Agribusiness Development Team 4 in southern Afghanistan.
“Specifically in the Arghandab district, I know it’s probably been the best received, most important training that we’ve conducted since we’ve been here. I felt like that not only did the district extension agent, but the district governor and several other people got a raised eyebrow to how effective it was,” Goode said.
“The local villages really appreciated it,” he added. “As far as I can tell, it went off without a hitch.”
In multiple districts within Kandahar province, ADT 4 instituted a multi-pronged veterinarian training program, consisting of a combination of basic and advanced veterinary training. For students completing the basic training course, they received vaccines to go out into their village and vaccinate diseased animals. Students selected for advanced training were sent to a six-month para-vet training school in northern Afghanistan.
We had one of the locals that’s at the [para-vet] school attending now, he cried with joy. It really was a life changer for him,” Goode said. “It’s given them an opportunity to actually do some good in their community. Hopefully, they’ll all get through it and get set up in business as planned. If not, they’re still going to have a great skillset.”
“Both programs are the best I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” he said.
Capt. David Licciardello, a 54-year-old Belmont, Va., native, serving as ADT 4’s veterinarian, explained the process behind the basic training programs.
“What we’ve done is teach 10 workers from different villages basic veterinary skills to help veterinary workers. They learned the essentials of husbandry, disease, how to recognize disease, how to report disease, and basic techniques on how to vaccinate,” he said.
“We gave them a thousand vaccines each and sent them back to their villages after the graduation ceremony, he added. “They vaccinated close to 10,000 animals.”
“What this also did for us, since there’s no actual census data on the amounts and types of animals, they brought back with them log sheets with the types of animals and the numbers,” Licciardello continued. “So it gave us an assessment of how many different types of animals and numbers are in these individual villages. It worked well for us as well.”
“Overall, there’s over two million head of livestock in the [Kandahar] province,” he said. “We’ve used the numbers we have from these projects to sort of interpolate how many different types of animals are in each district. It comes up to significant numbers, showing us that it’s a very important part of agriculture for Afghanistan.”
“To me, it seems like a priority moving ahead with progress,” Licciardello noted.
“There was a need brought forth from the [Arghandab] district extension agent,” Licciardello explained about the training programs’ origins.
“He said ‘we have a lot of disease.’ We asked who’s taking care of it, [and] he said ‘we have no help,’” he said. “There are traditionally para-vets, which is a guy that has gone off to school for six months, trained, sets up a little shop, and they will work with the provincial veterinarian. But there are none in Arghandab that are actually doing it.”
“We were left with a disease outbreak in the area, the Arghandab Valley, and no way of treating it. So I put together a curriculum of training, found an Afghan trainer to instruct these guys, purchased the vaccines and sent them out.”
“We do have a Kandahar University professor doing the training for us on a curriculum that I made. He’s well received, and the people just really enjoy the program.”
Licciardello briefly mentioned the role of the Arghandab ag team in the training process.
“What Chief Goode, Sgt. Dunn, and Lt. Newton did is they helped find candidates to send off to the par-vet school, which is a school that we’re sponsoring. It’s a six-month training school that can provide all the education,” Licciardello said. “They’ll [students] come back with equipment and skills, they’ll actually be taught how to run a business so they can be successful when they return.”
“The school is sponsored by the Dutch Committee for Afghanistan at the training center,” Licciardello added.
“We’ve done three of the same programs to teach basic veterinary workers in Panjwai and Zharay, as well as Arghandab [districts],” Licciardello summarized. “Cumulatively, we’ve vaccinated close to thirty thousand animals in these three districts, and we have plans to do more.”
“Our [Arghandab] extension agent put his staff through a ‘train-the-trainer’ concept, and he’s trying to bring his proficiencies up enough to continue that type of education and those types of classes in the field,” Goode observed about the program’s success so far.
“That’s why I say it’s probably the best thing that’s hit that area in a long time,” Goode said. “It’s going to impact them for a long time, I think.”
“From my end, I’ve gotten nothing but great appreciation from the programs helping from the district extension agents [and] the students, who’ve really never had any formalized training…and it’s their whole life has been around these animals,” said Licciardello.