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WASHINGTON, Feb. 18, 2009—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) today announced that Timothy Powers, Chief of Transportation and Logistics for USDA’s food assistance programs, has volunteered to serve a one-year assignment in Afghanistan to help rebuild that country’s agricultural sector.

"The efforts of people like Tim are crucial for creating stable, democratic, and economically viable societies in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq," said Suzanne Hale, FAS Acting Administrator. "Whether their expertise is in forestry, soil and water conservation, food safety, agricultural extension and policy, or veterinary services, volunteers like Tim are needed to contribute their specialized skills to help farmers, citizens, and national and provincial government leaders of these two countries."

Born in Germany and raised in Tennessee, Powers and his family live in Stafford County, Virginia. He has been a USDA employee since 1986.

In 2003, three USDA employees were among the first civilians to offer their technical expertise as agricultural advisors serving on Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan. Since then, approximately 40 advisors have been deployed. PRT advisors work on a variety of projects depending on the needs of the province. All projects are aimed at helping Afghanistan reconstruct the physical and institutional infrastructure of its agricultural sector.

Powers will serve as the USDA PRT liaison officer in Kabul where he will coordinate the work of other USDA PRT agricultural advisors around the country, traveling to each PRT as needed with military personnel.

In Afghanistan, PRTs are led by the U.S. Department of Defense and are typically composed of about 50-100 military personnel and several civilians. The PRT agricultural advisor is one of only a few civilians on the PRT; the others usually being U.S. Department of State representatives and U.S. Agency for International Development field program officers.

In addition to PRTs, USDA has many activities and programs aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Afghan government, rebuilding agricultural markets, and improving management of natural resources. For example, ongoing USDA technical assistance has led to the planting of more than five million trees on Afghanistan’s devastated landscape, construction of agricultural extension centers in half of Afghanistan’s provinces, the training of key Afghan agricultural officials, and the initiation of a national system to detect and control animal disease.

Programs such as USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program, the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program, and the Faculty Exchange Program have brought more than 40 Afghans to the United States for short-term specialized training. These public and private sector policymakers, scientists, and academics have upgraded their technical skills in a wide range of topics from developing market-driven food systems and increasing trade links with U.S. agribusinesses to collaborating with U.S. faculty and scientists in animal health, post-harvest processing, and plant protection.

USDA also uses the Food for Progress (FFP) and the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition (McGovern-Dole) Programs to provide food assistance to Afghanistan. The FFP improves nutrition and supports agricultural and economic development projects in developing countries that are emerging democracies and are introducing or expanding free enterprise in their agricultural sectors.  The McGovern-Dole program helps promote education, child development, and food security in low-income, food-deficit countries that are committed to universal education.  The program provides donations of U.S. agricultural products, as well as financial and technical assistance, for school feeding and maternal and child nutrition projects. The value of food aid given since 2003 is $216.7 million.

For more information about volunteering to serve on a PRT, please go to General information about USDA’s programs and activities in Afghanistan can be found at 



PR 0017-09

Contact: Linda Habenstreit (202) 720-9442

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