Faculty member travels to Afghanistan to battle agriculture problems and disease



By Brandon Goodwin

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One lieutenant colonel set foot in Afghanistan to fight, but his battle was of a different kind.

Carney Jackson, a veterinary pathologist and member of the Kentucky Air National Guard,  trains Afghani veterinarians to care for local livestock and fight against disease.

Jackson’s skills allow him to move around Afghanistan as he completes a variety of tasks.

“I’m more of an independent consultant,” Jackson said. “I can go to more spots than other vets.”

Since Aug. 1, 2009, Jackson has traveled to 11 provinces in Afghanistan as part of Kentucky’s Agribusiness Development Team, giving classes on food safety, rabies and avian and H1N1 flu and distributing educational materials for long-term learning.

“The vet students were real knowledgeable,” Jackson said. “But the (vet) students don’t have a chance for hands-on activities.”

Jackson and his team of 64 soldiers have provided equipment and expertise in teaching Afghani students how to take blood and perform necropsies, which are animal autopsies.

In the future, the ADT plans to take surgical equipment to help teach surgical techniques.

In his civilian life, Jackson is an associate professor in the UK College of Agriculture and a practicing veterinarian at UK’s Livestock Disease and Diagnostic Center.

Although he separates his roles as professor at UK and veterinarian in Afghanistan, Jackson said his experiences overlap.

“I’m in Afghanistan as a pathologist,” Jackson said. “But there are some flus and parasites there we haven’t seen in the Lexington area and I’m bringing techniques and experiences from Afghanistan back to the students at UK.”

However, Jackson’s work in Afghanistan doesn’t pertain only to animals. The ADT also provides essential training for individual farmers whose lives depend on the outcome of their harvests.

According to the CIA World Factbook, 78.6 percent of all employed persons in Afghanistan are employed by agriculture, and agriculture accounts for 31 percent of its gross domestic product.

“They know how to make a buck,” Jackson said. “They just need to apply their knowledge to broader activity.”

Jackson said Afghanis have potential, but part of the problem is their infrastructure.

“They need to build roads,” Jackson said. “They are raising onions and potatoes and other goods, but they lose more than 60 percent of their product because they can’t get them to the market. It is just rotting in their fields.”

While he knows his mission has helped people in Afghanistan, Jackson said he recognizes the need for more work to be done.

“I’m just a small dot in a big field.  I’m getting them a working knowledge of how to get food for themselves,” Jackson said. “It’s just a small portion of what needs to be done.”