Georgia couple aiding Afghan farmers

Saturday, April 17, 2010 11:00 AM
Last updated Monday, April 19, 2010 11:08 AM
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ATHENS, Ga. - An Oglethorpe County couple will spend the next year far from their farm outside Lexington, across the globe in Afghanistan.

SPECIAL
Husband-and-wife team David and Donna Mull, shown here in training in December, are volunteering for 13 months in Afghanistan with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service. They began their stint in March.

David and Donna Mull aren't fighting the Taliban, but their work could leave a lasting impact on the Afghan people.

They hope to help farmers there in much the same way Cooperative Extension agents work with farmers here in the United States, like teaching agricultural techniques or helping to install irrigation systems.

Both work in the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development office in Athens and volunteered for a 13-month tour with the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service to help build up the impoverished country's agricultural economy.

Now David, 60, and Donna, 50, are embedded with a Kentucky National Guard unit called an Agricultural Development Team, based at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan's Parwan province.

About every other day, they go out into the countryside with National Guard soldiers to meet with the people who live in areas around the base, often farmers working land in the Shomali Plain.

The area was once called the breadbasket of Afghanistan, said Matt Herrick, a spokesman for the Foreign Agricultural Service.

Decades of war and years of drought have hurt farms in the area, however.

"It's almost like stepping back in time 1,000 years," David Mull said.

Most people are poor, and few have things Americans take for granted, like electricity and clean water, he said.

Afghanistan is a high-tech battlefield, a place where the United States uses remote-controlled flying drones to assassinate enemy leaders.

But the Mulls' down-to-earth aid could help Afghans generate much needed cash.

"We're actually trying to the educate them with things on the agricultural side of life," Donna Mull said.

Donna Mull works with women. She's teaching beekeeping to families interested in producing honey and is showing women how to raise mushrooms.

David's been helping to install irrigation systems in water-poor areas, along with greenhouses, a chicken hatchery and a cool-storage building where crops like carrots can be kept.

Earlier this week, he talked with the Parwan Director of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock - sort of the equivalent of a state Secretary of Agriculture - about importing canola seed from Hart County.

"It might be a real good winter cash crop over here," he said.

The Mulls also will help train new members of their own team in a few weeks when their Kentucky National Guard unit is replaced by another unit.

Most of the fighting in Afghanistan is far from Bagram, but the couple gets reminders of the ongoing war.

"We've been hit by incoming maybe every two weeks," said David Mull, a Vietnam War veteran.

They also got training in how to handle themselves in an attack before they headed off to Afghanistan about a month ago, he said.

"It's kind of like a tornado in Georgia. If you're in the wrong place in the wrong time, it's not good for you," he said.

Mull, a 23-year U.S. Army veteran, has talked about going to Afghanistan for years, his wife said.

"He was military, and he wanted to go back and do something good for another country," she said. "This opportunity came up, and we discussed it."

Donna Mull didn't require a lot of convincing, she said.

"It's a year taken away from our lives, but it's rewarding. It's just trying to help other people," she said.

"If you go out there and you see these children's faces that are hungry and need something to eat ...," David Mull said from Bagram before his cell phone battery fizzled.

He finished his thought in an e-mail later: "What Donna and I both hope to accomplish in our year here is to not only serve our country and support the overall mission, but to also serve the people and nation of Afghanistan by making life a little more tolerable for them," he wrote. "If we can improve their agriculture procedures in any way, we want to accomplish that."

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Trey Enfantay
9
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Trey Enfantay 04/17/10 - 01:07 pm
0
0
Maybe they will learn to grow

Maybe they will learn to grow Opium Poppy's as part of the exchange....

Seriously, y'all have a safe trip.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 04/17/10 - 03:12 pm
0
0
Propaganda. Neither

Propaganda. Neither missionaries, embedded journalists, nor developmental aid workers should go in on the coattails of the U.S. military. This just makes them targets of the insurgency.

From today's headlines: "Taliban targets U.S. contractors working on projects in Afghanistan" by By Joshua Partlow | Washington Post Foreign Service | Saturday, April 17, 2010; A06

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/16/AR201004...

disssman
6
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disssman 04/17/10 - 06:48 pm
0
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So we are going to teach

So we are going to teach these folks who have lived there thousands of years, a better way to farm the soil. Any volunteer that wears a uniform is a potential target, or didn't they know that? Surely they know what the Yaliban does to civilians. I have to agree with JRHC on this one, it appears the military is baby sitting some feel good activities.

veggie-d
0
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veggie-d 04/17/10 - 07:12 pm
0
0
bad idea...dressed like

bad idea...dressed like soldiers...attacked like soldiers...dead like soldiers...forgotten like soldiers...

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 04/17/10 - 07:50 pm
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veggie--You may have

veggie--You may have forgotten, but not the rest of us. We are proud of our soldiers, and not one of them is forgotten here or on the Battlefield. I think you must be a foreigner. And Americans are not foreigners is the sense that you are referring to. Everyone is a foreigner because this is not our World--it belongs to God. But we are Americans through and through! All of us, Republicans, Democrats, you name it. That is where we draw the line and come together.....as Americans.

"Dead like soldiers." "Forgotten like soldiers,"....your obvious contempt and total disrespect for our soldiers is unforgivable and you shall be treated accordingly.

veggie-d
0
Points
veggie-d 04/17/10 - 07:57 pm
0
0
nat...you think i don't care

nat...you think i don't care about the g.i.'s gettin' killed in iraq everyday? they should NEVER have been deployed for so long in a country that had NOTHING to do with 911. how many years did you serve in the american military? your father? your uncles? your cousins? you know NOTHING about me at all except that i do NOT buy into american government/political propaganda/lies/cheatin/stealin that the american government is engaged in everyday...overseas AND right here on good ole american soil! i have MORE respect for american soldiers and their families than you can imagine...i just don't believe they belong in george w. bushes personal battles/redneck "wars"...they are dying for NOTHING...and YOU support it!...keep waving your flag nat...mine "flies upside down"...for good reason...

butler123
1
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butler123 04/17/10 - 07:55 pm
0
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Thank you Nat the Cat. My

Thank you Nat the Cat. My daughter is at Bagram too.

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 04/17/10 - 08:23 pm
0
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Veggie-D says; ".....american

Veggie-D says; ".....american government/political propaganda/lies/cheatin/stealin that the american government is engaged in everyday...overseas AND right here on good ole american soil!
__________________________

Of course you can back that up with positive proof, and some sources, right?

veggie-d
0
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veggie-d 04/17/10 - 08:27 pm
0
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oh nat...how LITTLE you DO

oh nat...how LITTLE you DO know...when are you gonna enlist?? obama inherited the grabage left behind from the redneck hillbillies who left the "whitey house" and this country in shambles...again...until you don the camo and head for the desert to replace one of the soldiers who has been back there time and again...the only good thing your flag waving does is provide a slight breeze...to fan the fumes of anger/death/and violence that you rally behind...

Sargebaby
4693
Points
Sargebaby 04/17/10 - 08:32 pm
0
0
Veggie, your lack of

Veggie, your lack of knowledge about the continuity of government, is at best, underwhelming! If you don't know who started that garbage pile left behind by every president since Roosevelt, read up!

veggie-d
0
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veggie-d 04/17/10 - 08:37 pm
0
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sarge- living life is

sarge- living life is evidence/proof enough, i don't have time or interest in listing this countries crimes for you. it would take some 200 yrs to get it all down. and you don't have that kinda time...

veggie-d
0
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veggie-d 04/17/10 - 08:37 pm
0
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sbaby- you spend too much

sbaby- you spend too much time in the comments sections on EVERY article in the paper for me to even take you seriously or respect a thing you say..."jack of all - master of none"!

butler123
1
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butler123 04/17/10 - 08:43 pm
0
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Well guys don't let veggie

Well guys don't let veggie get you riled up. He/she is without. I have to go give my daughters babies baths. Peace.

Nat the Cat
1
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Nat the Cat 04/18/10 - 10:29 pm
0
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Veggie, the bile you spew

Veggie, the bile you spew about our Country is somewhat paradoxical. Every Country, since humanity began, has been involved in Wars and the killing of their neighbors throughout history. Is your point that the United States is somehow different or worse than any other Country that has waged war or defended themselves in the past--say, Ancient Persia, Mesopotamia, Egyptians, Africans, Greeks, Romans, the Spainish, the French, the British Empire, Germany, Japan, China? I could name every Country that ever existed on the face of the Earth.
Then you stated that President Obama inherited the garbage left behind by the "the redneck hillbillies," [ I assume you mean President Bush] who left the "whitey house," and "this" [emphasis added], Country in shambles...again.

First, please know that "this," Country is OUR Country, apparently not yours, and "this" Country has never been left in "shambles...again" by any one [or more], Presidents, who has ever served; thus, the entire premise of that portion of your argument is indefensible.

You then state that the "only good thing" that my flag waving [defending my Commander in Chief] does is to provide a slight breeze to fan the flames of anger, death, and violence that you rally behind. Do you have any idea what you are conveying to others, besides sarcasm. That anyone who flies the Flag of the United States of America {not upside down, as you do}, is simply providing a "breeze," to fan the flames of War. Don't you know how singular that sounds, and thus revealing a "tunnel vision," type mind full of hate? Do you realize how much hate and comtempt that it takes to even write a sentence like that about our Country?

Other than the obvious fact that you, yourself, are either a "redneck," or a "racist," by using such provincial language, I can only ask, "Why doesn't President Obama withdraw our Troops from Iraq--And why has President Obama increased our Military presence in Afghanistan.

Could it be to prevent further attacks on our Homeland as in 9/11, or would you rather that al Queda come over here again and fly a couple of our own Aircraft into your house. You would be the first one wetting yourself and begging for someone [our American Soldiers] to protect your backside--and then complain and protest as loud as you are now if they didn't, or criticize them for the way they saved your behind.

And finally, vegetable, this is the second time you have referred to Military Service within my family. Once again your comment is a paradox and hypocritical. I have had some Military Training, and my Father devoted his entire career serving for the Department of the Army.

You, on the other hand, have had no Military Experience in the United States Forces, nor has anyone in your family. I say hypocritical, because you have stated on more than one occasion that I [nor anyone else on this Board} am not qualifed to wave my Flag [support my Commander in Chief], or to speak on the subject unless and until I take the place of a soldier that has served in the desert time and again. Therefore, if that is the criteria for speaking on the subject, I don't expect to hear another word from you. But I probably will.

crackerjack
150
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crackerjack 04/18/10 - 10:16 pm
0
0
Veggie......... Don't like it

Veggie......... Don't like it here? Let your clutch out.

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 04/18/10 - 10:37 pm
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Thank you for your comment,

Thank you for your comment, Nat! People like Veggie can't be taken serious! They are the ones like the group in Westboro Church in Topeka! The entire Nation hates them!

Oh, Veggie, I don't hate you, but the schrapnel I took and the Agent Orange that is slowly killing me, definitely wasn't for people like you! I signed that blank check for true Americans. Somehow, I just don't see you as having that status.

Sargebaby
4693
Points
Sargebaby 04/18/10 - 10:40 pm
0
0
Oh yes, Veg, if you think

Oh yes, Veg, if you think this country is too criminal for ya, move out!

veggie-d
0
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veggie-d 04/19/10 - 03:11 am
0
0
sarge unlike you/GNAT/others

sarge unlike you/GNAT/others i do NOT view my country and the corrupt government that has abused it's citizens, as one in the same...

i like the country...just not it's government and the drones who blindly follow it and defend it when it engages in murderous violence and other criminal actions around the world....i'll leave that to your kind.

sarge vietnam and your military career ended long ago...get over it. it was a colossal failure and too many people were killed/ wounded for nothing...including you...hate it for ya.

agent orange was YOUR government KNOWINGLY KILLING YOU...then they tried to hide that fact...(just like when they fed civilians cereal laced w/nuclear materials, to test the effects of radiation on humans during the development of the nuke) then they cut your families medical benefits that they promised you would have for the rest of your life...seems like you'd send some of your hatred their way...or did they BLIND you too???

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