Local Seed House Prepares Soybeans for Afghanistan

Posted at: 02/01/2013 6:33 PM
Updated at: 02/01/2013 6:37 PM
By: Brittany Lewis

(ABC 6 News) -- A local seed house is preparing seeds that will be sent more than 7,000 miles away to Afghanistan.

The Albert Lea Seed House, The World Initiative for Soy in Human Health, and Shelter for Life will distribute the seeds to 5,000 Afghan farmers, 500 of which are women.

467 million. That’s the number of seeds the Albert Lea Seed House prepared to be sent to two northern provinces in Afghanistan.

"To be a part something that's bigger and to bring a new agricultural project to a country is pretty exciting. You never know how it's gonna catch on and we certainly hope the variety performs well,” said Elia Romano, a manager at the Albert Lea Seed House.

The seeds are part of the Soybean for Agricultural Renewal in Afghanistan, a program in its third year that has served close to 9,000 Afghan Farmers and gives some of them an opportunity for profit for the first time.

"They've always grown wheat, which they consume whole heartedly, but this would be a cash crop for them. And for many of these people it's the first time they've had cash for something they've grown,” said Barb Overlie, a board member for Minnesota Soy Bean Growers.

Once the seeds arrive, the farmers are taught to produce the soybeans.

"The seed is put in my hand, one seed at a time, uh the ground is still worked by oxen if they're lucky some of them are still taught with picks and shovels.. Very basic farming,” said Overlie.

Livestock are also benefiting.

"It also they have already found since this project started, that their livestock is healthier, producing better and they're starting to put two and two together this is the relationship,” said Overlie.

A chance at generating income, is also a chance to generate peace.

"I was talking with one of our engineers last year and he jokingly said we might have a problem with the warlords and I asked him what was the reason. He said it's more profitable to work on the farm than to be a solider,” said Mustafa Omar, Executive Director for Shelter for Life.

Giving these small soybeans, a big responsibility.

To generate income, farmers will be able to sell their seeds to markets put in place by humanitarian efforts.