Troops And State Department Help Iraqi Feed Mill Owner
May 23, 2008
Until recently, a feed mill in Sayafiyah, Iraq had to be shut down, due to insurgent activity in the community. It was unsafe for him and his employees to come to work. Recently though, the owner of the feed mill received a US State Department micro-grant to get his business back up and going.
“We always had to stay in our house,” Thamer Hussain Kashkool said, adding that the insurgents had stolen the mill’s motor.
Because most of the insurgents and extremists have been driven out of the area, the community is much safer, allowing Troops to concentrate on aiding the residents in the area to begin focusing on rebuilding. The economy in the area is mostly agricultural based, thus making it important to have the feed mill operational. One of the main purposes of the feed mill is to provide feed for area chicken farmers.
“We have a chicken coop ready to be stocked with 30,000 chicks,” Mike Stevens, Baghdad 7 Embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team agricultural advisor said. “We need this mill so we can stock the coops. The farmers need the mill to feed their chicks.”
When the mill wasn’t operational, farmers had to travel to Baghdad to buy feed for their animals. Insurgents are still implanting roadside bombs on some roads, and Stevens felt it was important to avoid making the farmers travel so far to obtain feed for their chickens. With the State Department’s micro-grant, Kashkool is able to get his business operational and provide the local farmers with feed, thus doing away with the need to travel the roads to Baghdad to obtain the feed. With the local mill operational, jobs will also be created.
“We give them money to start, and then encourage them to get loans from the Ministry of Agriculture to cover the rest, so we have Iraqis using Iraqi money,” Stevens explained.
Kashkool plans to use the grant money to repair damages to the mill’s roof caused by the insurgents, purchase a new generator, motor and different types of seeds. Besides producing feed for chickens, the mill also will produce feed for other livestock and eventually for fish as well. According to Kashkool, once the mill is fully operational, he will be able to employ at least 14 people in his business.
I’m sure it’s great to watch as communities in Iraq start becoming revilatlized and businesses either reopen or new ones are started. These types of things, though they may seems small and inconsequential to us, mean a lot to the Iraqi people and send them a clear message that our country isn’t going to just walk away and leave their communities in shambles, with no viable businesses or means of support.