Monday, February 13, 2012
A University of West Georgia professor has played a key role in helping Afghan farmers improve the way they get their produce to market.
Maj. Erich Bergiel, a member of the Regional Command Southwest Economic Development section, was the project supervisor for the Marjeh Fruit and Vegetable Packing Facility in Helmand province.
Construction of the plant began in May 2010 and was completed recently, according to the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS). Once opened, farmers will take their produce to the facility where it will be cleaned, sorted, placed in cold storage and then distributed.
The plant is a major improvement over the old way of doing things: farmers take their produce to local bazaars in the morning. By the late afternoon, the fruits and vegetables lose their freshness and value in the scorching heat and customers bargain for lower prices.
“The new building has the potential to change the current paradigm in the produce market,” Bergiel told Master Gunnery Sgt. Phil Mehringer of DVIDS. The Marjeh packing plant is the first of its kind in Helmand province.
Bergiel is an associate professor of management at UWG and a reserve marine. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2011. He was raised in Thibodaux, La.
Information about the photo, taken by Master Gunnery Sgt. Phil Mehringer:
Maj. Erich Bergiel (right) inspects the solar panels on the roof of the Marjeh Fruit and Vegetable Packing Facility while he talks with Abdul Rahman, a renewable energy engineer. Solar panels provide a renewable energy source to the building.
Photo Source: Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System