USDA Employee Kirby Hayes Helping Rebuild Afghanistan's Agricultural Sector

Dozens of USDA Civilian Experts Currently Serving in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2012 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) announced today that Kirby Hayes, PhD of Harkers Island, N.C. is currently serving a year-long assignment in Bamiyan, Afghanistan where he helps rebuild the country's agricultural sector.

Hayes is one of more than 50 USDA employees currently serving in Afghanistan. The growth of Afghanistan's agricultural sector, which employs more than 80 percent of its workforce, is a key component of the U.S. government's strategy to stabilize the country.

"The efforts of people like Kirby Hayes are crucial for creating a stable and economically viable Afghanistan," said FAS Acting Administrator Suzanne Heinen. "Whether their expertise is in marketing, forestry, soil and water conservation, agricultural extension and policy, or veterinary services, volunteers like Dr. Hayes are contributing their specialized skills to help Afghans rebuild their economy so that stability may take hold."

Since 2003, USDA has deployed more than 120 employees to Afghanistan. USDA's primary role in Afghanistan is helping to build capacity within the country's Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL) so that it may deliver vital services to Afghan farmers and citizens.

Most USDA employees serving in Afghanistan are agricultural experts in units consisting of military force protection and civilians with expertise in agriculture, governance and other areas in need of attention. USDA agricultural experts work side-by-side with Afghan nationals and U.S. government and international partners in rural Afghan provinces.

At the provincial and district levels, USDA agricultural experts train local government representatives and Afghan extension workers in plant and animal health, natural resources management, and improved cultivation and production methods.

Other USDA employees working in Afghanistan serve within the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as Foreign Service Officers and as members of the Interagency Provincial Affairs (IPA) section, the office that coordinates the civilian-military units deployed throughout the country.

Before volunteering to serve in Afghanistan, Hayes served as a law enforcement officer for the National Park Service. Hayes is also a captain in the U.S. Army Reverses in the Civil Affairs career field. Hayes received an associate's degree in pharmacy from Vincennes College in Vincennes, Ind. as well as a bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in food science from Purdue University.

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