U.S. Marines on Ag mission at Fresno State

FRESNO, Calif.

Patrol duty on the Fresno State farm is helping the marines prepare for deployment. For the 11th Marine Regiment Civil Affairs detachment this week-long mission involves agricultural training.

Lt. Karl Kadon said, "We're going to be out on patrol with all the infantry marines. We're going to be the primary interactors with these Afghan farmers."

They'll help Afghanis solve their most pressing problems so they need basic knowledge of farming and irrigation.

Bill Erysian of Fresno State's Jordan College of Ag Sciences and Technology helped develop this first-of-its kind program for the Marine Corps.

Erysian said one of the goals of the program was, "How to develop an understanding for how the Afghanis are really connected to the land."

The variety of crops produced at Fresno State gives the marines a good idea of what is grown in Afghanistan.

The marines will soon deploy to southern Afghanistan, a hot spot for insurgency. Lt. Kadon says agricultural knowledge learned at Fresno State will help them establish trust among local farmers.

Kadon said one of the goals is to, "Give them a better way of life and facilitate legitimate governance in Afghanistan."

The marines also hope to help farmers find alternatives to growing poppies which are used to produce opium.

Ganesan Srinivasan heads Fresno State's agricultural lab. He said, "The farmers really don't want to rely on poppy, I can tell you that. They want to grow crops which they are proud of that they can support themselves."

Srvinivasan was most recently in Afghanistan three years ago.

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