Received this note from GEN Ray Odierno. (No, not personally ... just a post to his Facebook page. Sign up here if you want to get them.)
The Central Euphrates Farmers' Market in Mahawil is now open for business after a grand opening ceremony on June 12. The market, a cooperative project between Iraqi and Coalition forces, is the culmination of two years to planning and building.
"The fact that this market is here today demonstrates the cooperation of the Iraqi Security Forces and the Coalition forces," said Brig. Gen. Jerry Lang, deputy commanding general of support for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. "We hope this model of cooperation you have demonstrated ... will help us bring it to the rest of Southern Iraq."
"We have received a lot of help from the Coalition forces, and for that, we are finally to the point that we are here for celebration," said Sheikh Khodaer Abdlhosaen, director of the Central Euphrates Farmers' Market.
The market has 20 outdoor stalls and 24 indoor stalls, from which farmers will sell their produce to wholesale buyers as well as directly to local retail customers. Revenue generated by the rental of the stalls will cover the market's operating and maintenance costs, making the project completely self-sustaining.
An Iraqi boy sorts tomatoes at the newly opened Central Euphrates Farmers' Market June 12. The market is built on Highway 1, connecting Basra with Baghdad and Mosul, which is projected to become Iraq's most significant growth corridor in the years ahead. It gives the farmers' market enough space for vehicular accessibility as well as room for research, education programs and future expansion. Photo by Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery
Brig. Gen. Jerry Lang, deputy commanding general of support for the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division, Sheik Khodaer Abdlhosaen, director of the Central Euphrates Farmers' Market, and Deputy Governor of Babil province Iskander Witwit discuss how the market will help the region excel in agriculture. Photo by Spc. Darryl L. Montgomery