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NEWS | May 18, 2010

Texas ADT goes back to school

By 2nd Lt. Katherine Roling Combined Joint Task Force - 82 PAO

GHAZNI PROVINCE. Afghanistan - Sanayee High School in Ghazni City invited the Texas Agribusiness Development Team back to school, May 3, to check up on a project designed to give students hands-on agricultural experience.

The all-male school, which has 5,000 students, has agricultural classes for 10th and 11th grade. The agricultural classes are two hours long and give students the chance to work with the soil.

Because of Afghanistan's strong agricultural background, the ADT, made up of members from the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard, assists with providing materials for the classes designed to instill interest in agricultural studies.

"We want to provide them with hands on experience and to apply it, whether it's at home or if they want to pursue higher studies and an agricultural degree," said 1st Lt. Rodney Robinson, agribusiness marketing specialist from Austin, Texas. Robinson has been the team leader for this project.

After visiting April 8, the ADT returned almost a month later to learn that textbooks, seeds, and gardening tools had arrived. Gardens were also created and some students were digging in the schoolyard for class during the ADT's visit.

The team spoke with faculty and examined tools, seeds, textbooks and the five gardens, which were not complete back in April. The gardens are now ready for seeds, with metal trellises that will allow taller plants, like tomatoes, to have support for growth.

"They are in the books for a week, and then they go outside for the next week," said Zabiullah Hanify, Sanayee High School principal.

Hanify pointed through his window to smiling students working outside with shovels and bringing up soft dirt in the shade.

"About 700 students are in agricultural classes, and there are two teachers for 13 classes," said Abdul Saboor, the assistant principal. "Each class holds 50 to 60 people."

The agricultural classes teach different subjects.

"They have three types of training," said Safar Ali, the school deputy administrator. "They learn about soil, how to check for diseases, and grafting."

Grafting is the process of asexual plant propagation where the tissues of one plant are encouraged to fuse with those of another. This allows the production of fruit in some plant species, like apple trees.

In addition to speaking to faculty, the team was led to an empty classroom, where they looked at the different seeds, tools and textbooks that were ordered by the ADT.

Included in the inventory were seeds for tomatoes, squash, pepper, watermelon, peanuts, alfalfa, beets, radish, rosemary, beans and learning tools like rakes, shovels, water buckets, wheelbarrows and textbooks.

The program will be run by the school, but now the faculty has the supplies they need to encourage agricultural studies and facilitate learning.