Afghanistan-bound Marines learn farming practices

By the Associated Press | June 6, 2011 | 6:14 PM EDT

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A group of Marines are getting a primer on agriculture at California State University, Fresno before deploying to Afghanistan, where they will share the knowledge with local farmers as part of the U.S. war effort.

The hands-on and classroom training began Monday and will continue all week. It covers topics such as irrigation, plant recognition and livestock care. Nearly 50 Marines from the 11th Marine Regiment Civil Affairs Detachment stationed at Camp Pendleton are participating.

The goal of the training is to help the Marines build connections with Afghans by giving them the knowledge to help farmers with agricultural problems.

Military officials chose Fresno State because of its expertise in agriculture and because crops such as almonds and pomegranates in California's Central Valley are similar to those in Afghanistan's war-torn Helmand Province.