Hammond to assist farmers in Afghanistan

Vaughn Hammond
Vaughn Hammond

Vaughn Hammond, a UNL Extension educator, is heading to Afghanistan to help farmers there make the transition back to crops earlier generations grew before decades of war befell the nation.

Hammond, a specialist in growing small fruits and market vegetables, is based at the Kimmel Education and Research Center at Nebraska City. The Afghan people grew such crops before entering more than two decades of war, which started with the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion.

“So many farmers didn’t survive. Their art of taking care of the land and producing food was not passed down to their children," Hammond said. "We want to give them some options beyond what they’re doing now."

Hammond will be working in August and September with the Nebraska National Guard Agribusiness Development Team, which previously received training on farming techniques from extension.

"It’s pretty exciting,” Hammond said. “It’s an awesome opportunity to do what extension does best — help the people.”

Hammond and the National Guard team will be working in the eastern Afghanistan provinces Paktia and Paktika.

Hammond’s mission is funded by the Department of Defense’s agriculture development program in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is led by Howard W. Buffett, grandson of Warren Buffett.

Elbert Dickey, dean and director of UNL Extension, said all Nebraskans should be proud of this initiative.

“This is one more step in helping the world meet food and fiber needs of the future. The dream is that Afghanistan will redevelop its agriculture, eventually returning to a food exporting country,” Dickey said.