WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2009—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the U.S. members of three working groups under the U.S.-Afghanistan-Pakistan trilateral consultations launched in May as part of President Obama’s comprehensive, new strategy to enhance global food security.
"The individuals I have selected have experience in Afghanistan and Pakistan and bring creativity, commitment and dedication to the task at hand," said Vilsack. "USDA is uniquely positioned to reach out to land-grant universities, agribusinesses and non-governmental and private organizations to call upon their expertise for this important effort."
Burnham Philbrook, USDA’s Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Deputy Under Secretary, will head the U.S. Secretariat for Agriculture, while the trilateral working groups on agricultural trade corridors, food security and water management and watershed rehabilitation will be lead by Christian Foster, Deputy Administrator for Trade Programs in USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS); Ibrahim Shaqir, Director for International Research Programs in USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS); and Melvin Westbrook, Director for International Programs in USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), respectively. Listed below are the members of each working group.
Agricultural Trade Corridors
Water Management and Watershed Rehabilitation
These individuals will work with their respective Afghan and Pakistani group members to identify priorities and develop and apply appropriate programs, training and solutions. The Afghan Secretariat is lead by Saleem Kunduzi, Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock and the Pakistani Secretariat is lead by Malik Zahoor Ahmad, Director General of the National Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The goal of each working group is to: develop agriculture trade corridors along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan to facilitate trans-border trade; strengthen food security by collaborating on research to improve the production of fruits, nuts, livestock and other agricultural products and reduce post-harvest loss; and improve water and watershed management and irrigation methods and rehabilitate watersheds to increase crop yields and create jobs.
In May, Secretary Vilsack met with Afghanistan’s Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock Mohammad Asif Rahimi and Pakistan’s Minister for Food and Agriculture Nazar Muhammad Gondal as part of an Obama Administration effort to bring a new era of stability and prosperity to the Afghan-Pakistan border.
Release No. 0529.09 FAS PR 0270-09
Contact: USDA Office of Communications, (202) 720-4623