WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2009—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) today announced that Dr. Jaroslaw J. Fabis, a Food Safety and Inspection Service supervisory public health veterinarian in Brooklyn, N.Y., has returned from a five-month voluntary assignment in Iraq to help rebuild that country’s agricultural sector.
"The efforts of people like Dr. Fabis are crucial for creating stable, democratic, and economically viable societies in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq," said FAS Administrator Michael Michener. "Whether their expertise is in forestry, soil and water conservation, food safety, agricultural extension and policy, or veterinary services, volunteers like Dr. Fabis are needed to contribute their specialized skills to help farmers, citizens, and national and provincial government leaders of these two countries."
Since 2003, USDA has deployed staff to Iraq for long- and short-term assignments. This year, USDA will fill 33 Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) agricultural advisor positions in Iraq. PRT advisors work on a variety of projects depending on the needs of the province. All projects are aimed at helping Iraq reconstruct the physical and institutional infrastructure of its agricultural sector.
Dr. Fabis served as a USDA PRT agricultural advisor on the Maysan PRT, which is located along the Iranian border. As the first veterinarian to serve on this PRT, he worked closely with the Maysan Veterinary Hospital to improve livestock health and productivity. He provided training to 125 veterinarians and veterinary technicians and helped revitalize the local government’s animal disease detection laboratories by obtaining modern diagnostic equipment. Dr. Fabis’ rapport with local sheikhs enabled him to work in towns and villages that had previously been hostile to Westerners. Born in Poland, Dr. Fabis currently lives in Willington, Conn. He received a doctorate in veterinary medicine from the University of Agriculture, School of Veterinary Medicine in Warsaw, Poland in 1982, and completed his residency in Anatomic Veterinary Pathology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., in 2005.
In Iraq, PRTs are led by the U.S. Department of State and are typically composed of more than 50 military and civilian personnel, the majority being from the military. The PRT agricultural advisor is just one of the civilians on the PRT; other personnel come from the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development and Department of Justice.
In addition to PRTs, USDA has many activities and programs aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Iraqi government, rebuilding agricultural markets, and improving management of natural resources. This spring, 60-70 Iraqi extension specialists received advanced extension training at five U.S. land-grant universities under the Iraq Agricultural Extension Revitalization Project (IAER).
Programs such as USDA’s Cochran Fellowship Program and the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellows Program have brought more than 30 Iraqis to the United States for short-term specialized training. These public and private sector policymakers, scientists, and veterinarians have upgraded their technical skills in a wide range of topics including techniques to control animal diseases, agricultural policy planning and budget management, and research in water resources, waste-water recycling, and irrigation.
USDA has also used the Food for Progress (FFPr) Program to provide food assistance to Iraq. The FFPr program supports agricultural and economic development projects in developing countries that are emerging democracies and are introducing or expanding free enterprise in their agricultural sectors. In 2005, USDA implemented an FFPr program in Iraq through the U.S. Grains Council (USGC) with a total value of $10.8 million. The funds were used to provide educational programs to members of the newly formed Iraq Poultry Producers Association, Iraqi bankers, and Iraqi poultry producers and to establish the Iraq Poultry Fund Trust, which serves as a credit guarantee for participating banks financing the import of poultry feed ingredients. In 2008, Iraq imported U.S. poultry feed ingredients valued at $3.9 million due to the USGC’s efforts to rebuild Iraq’s poultry industry.
For more information about volunteering to serve on a PRT, please go to http://jobsearch.usajobs.gov/agency.aspx and select Foreign Agricultural Service. General information about USDA’s programs and activities in Iraq can be found at http://www.fas.usda.gov/country/iraq/development/iraq.asp.
Linda Habenstreit (202) 720-9442