The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture, in conjunction with U.S. Defense Department Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, broke ground Dec. 6 on a new Agriculture College Building at Nangarhar University in Jalalabad.

Attendees at the groundbreaking included officials from Afghanistan’s ministries of reconstruction, higher education and finance; university chancellor Dr. Mohammad Saber; dean of the agriculture college Dr. Mohammad Asif Bawary; provincial officials; and representatives of  the U.S. Agency for International Development A4 Project – Purdue University, the DOD task force and Borlaug Institute.

The state-of-the-art agricultural building will be the first to be constructed as part of Nangarhar University’s master plan. It is the result of a cooperative effort of private donors, the defense department task force, the Borlaug Institute and the university.

"The facility will be constructed for the purpose of improving farm income and productivity in Nangarhar Province by creating a modern agricultural college serving farmers and agribusiness through teaching, research, extension and developing leaders in and for the rural community," said Dr. Edwin Price, director of the Borlaug Institute, part of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M University.

The circular, three-story building will house the five existing departments of the university's college of agriculture. In addition, it will have the capacity for adding two additional departments -- food technology and forestry and natural resource management -- planned for the near future. The completed building will accommodate up to 1,800 students, providing access for male and female students and academic staff.

The facility will be named in honor of former Minister of Agriculture Dr. Abdul Wakil, known as the “father of modern horticulture of Afghanistan.”

Like Dr. Norman Borlaug, American Nobel Peace Prize laureate and "father for the Green Revolution" for whom the Borlaug Institute is named, Wakil was a pioneer in plant breeding and propagation. Using innovative techniques, Wakil was able to rapidly introduce modern varieties and production methods of tree-fruit and nut crops such as apples, peaches and almonds to Afghanistan, where the crops continue to be widely produced.

"Implementing this project at Nangarhar University illustrates TFBSO’s long-term commitment to agricultural development in one of the most fertile provinces in Afghanistan," said Howard W. Buffett, director of agricultural development for the business and stability operations task force. "Our partnership with the Borlaug Institute and Nangarhar University underscores the importance of establishing economic stability in Afghanistan's agriculture sector."

The new building at Nangarhar University will be instrumental in helping Afghanistan’s future by bringing knowledge and improved methods of production which can be shared with Afghan farmers, Price added.

For more information about the Borlaug Institute, visit http://borlaug.tamu.edu.