Written by U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Holly Hess Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team
Panjshir Province, Afghanistan – The Kentucky National Guard Agribusiness Development Team with Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team visited a fish farm in Doabe Khwak village in Paryan district August 18th.
The team assisted the owner with paperwork to apply for a U.S. Government Micro Grant.
“The majority of the programs that exist are for the government,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffrey Casada, ADT leader with the Panjshir PRT and London, KY, native. “This grant is for the private individual.”
It is a two-page application process to apply for up to $10,000 in funding for a private business, he said.
“The private individual has more at stake because it is his livelihood,” said Casada. “If you have invested in a project and put a lot of work into it, you want to see it succeed.”The farm was spotted on a previous mission, so the ADT wanted to take a look at it to see if they could assist.
Abdul Aziz, the owner and operator of the Paryan District fish farm, said he built the farm in February and started raising fish this past April.
“We bought the eggs from Kabul,” said Aziz through an interpreter. “We will raise them and then sell them at the bazaar for 300 Afghani per kilogram.”
Aziz said the money he gets would go back into the farm and help feed his family, but if he gets the grant, he would like to improve the fish farm in various ways.
“If we get the money, I would buy cement to make it bigger, build a retaining wall with a gate, and get more fish food,” said Aziz. “We have 3,000 fish right now, but if we make it bigger, I would try to have 40,000 fish and hire two more workers to help.”
Casada said the ADT will also educate the owner on modern techniques to help improve the farm.
“These fish should grow to full size in about a year and a half with the right food,” said Casada. “He is feeding the fish a diet of wheat, mulberries and fishmeal, but the fish should have grown larger since our last visit, so I don’t think they have enough protein.”
Casada also said they are requesting to have a fish farm specialist evaluate the farm and diet in order to increase the likelihood for success.
“Anytime you have fish in a closed area, you have to be careful of disease,” he said.
Casada said if this is successful the project could be used as a pilot program for other districts.
“He is someone who can teach and involve others,” said Casada. “Eventually, no funds will need to be invested, and it will be a self-sustaining project.”
Aziz is the only known farmer raising fish in the Paryan District and expects to harvest his fish next fall.