Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack participated in a joint press briefing at the State Department prior to leaving for Afghanistan.
"I think it is fair to say that agriculture is the top non-security priority for the United States government in Afghanistan," Vilsack said. "I'm looking forward to traveling to Afghanistan to visit with officials from the Afghan government."
Vilsack told reporters that this trip is very important because agriculture is the main source of the Afghan economy.
"Eighty percent of Afghans earn their income from agriculture," Vilsack said. "Thirty-five percent of the Afghan GDP comes from agriculture and 50% of their arable land is currently under cultivation."
Vilsack says the goal of the mission to Afghanistan is to create a stronger rural economy and create jobs for the unemployed. For the mission to be successful, Vilsack says it must be Afghan led with the support of the entire U.S. government.
"We think it will increase confidence in the national government to be able to deliver key services," Vilsack said. "And we also believe we'll respond to the needs of food security that the country currently has."