02/07/2012 - Story by Master Gunnery Sgt. Phil Mehringer, Regional Command Southwest
MARJEH, Afghanistan — Construction of a new produce packing plant, the Marjeh Fruit and Vegetable Packing Facility, complete with a solar-powered cold storage facility, was recently finished, inspected and is now ready for business.
The Marjeh plant could change the supply-and-demand economic model for area farmers.
Marjeh lies just east of the Helmand River which provides the necessary water, through an intricate network of canals, to grow a variety of crops year-round. But local farmers struggle to deliver their produce to distant markets.
Maj. Erich Bergiel, project supervisor and member of the Regional Command Southwest Economic Development section, related the problem of getting produce to market in an Afghan parable: “Put fresh pomegranate in the back of your truck and on the way to market it turns into pomegranate jelly.”
The scorching heat in Helmand province is prolific, often reaching above 130 degrees Fahrenheit during the main harvest season. As a result, fresh fruits and vegetables have a very short life span, resulting in limited shelf-life and transportability. read more>>>