Photos: Western DR Congo

Kid in Mbanza Ngungu, Western DRC

Kid in Mbanza Ngungu, Western DRC

An agricultural officer at a pest and disease training

An agricultural officer at a pest and disease training

A young woman observing our activities in the field

A young woman observing our activities in the field

Photo: father and son with maize in Pakistan

Pakistan maize crop clinic Punjab

These two were attending a plant clinic in Bahawalpur district in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The browning leaves on the maize reduces the yield, and they came to the clinic to get a diagnosis and advice on how to reduce their losses. Hopefully the clinic helped, and they are now getting healthier crops! Best of luck to them

Photo: Orange is the new Black

Whilst visiting the work that the Government of Punjab is doing in Bahawalpur district, we went to a fruit and vegetables market in Bahawalpur main bazaar. This trader was located in front of the gates, in front of the banner explaining what our initiative was trying to achieve! He was very loud and friendly and insisted that we buy some of his fruit. I could not resist! They tasted good as well. People in Asia put orange henna dye in their hair for various reasons. One of them is tell the world that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site in Muslim beliefs.

Whilst visiting the work that the Government of Punjab is doing in Bahawalpur district, we went to a fruit and vegetables market in Bahawalpur main bazaar. This trader was located in front of the gates, in front of the banner explaining what our initiative was trying to achieve! He was very loud and friendly and insisted that we buy some of his fruit. I could not resist! They tasted good as well.
People in Asia put orange henna dye in their hair for various reasons. One of them is tell the world that they have made a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest site in Muslim beliefs.

What do you think of when you think of Afghanistan…

friendly people in a market in Bamyan

friendly people in a market in Bamyan

What do you think of when you think of Afghanistan?
War, Taleban, jihad, deserted mountains, insurgency, war, freedom against oppression, America’s war, Pashtun people, war, war and more war?
First of all, Afghanistan is a country, populated by 32 million people. Yes there are horrible people there, just as there are disgusting human beings in western societies. The lack of a unified justice system and corruption in governments allow them more freedom out there it is true, but I would bet we have just as many dishonest and revolting people in the West as they have. Our society is just better at identifying them and cracking down on them
My point is people are just people, wherever you may go.
What Afghanistan is not, contrary to what media outlets try to make you believe, is a country full of people ready to slit your throat to steal the 10 dollars you have in your wallet, ready to kidnap you because of what your skin colour represents, ready to wage holy war and kill every western or Christian person they see indiscriminately.
This article, http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/25/under-americas-surveillance-dome/ ) a truly well written account of the “rule of law” in USA, shows the bias western media has when commenting on international polemics. I urge you to read it in order for your mind to have that 10 minutes of balance when reacting to news we receive through our little screens on our desks or in our hands.
I cannot write as well as the author of the article above, Rev William E. Alberts, but I echo his sentiments completely. We in the UK are relatively lucky to possess a media that still has an element of freedom to it (although this is being chipped away at gradually), contrary to state and corporate owned media in the US. I am not going to start becoming holier-than-thou in this blog, as this is probably not why you’ve clicked on it in the first place, but I guess my message would be: please please please make an effort to read news that is balanced and not written for political ends. Research all points of views before simply basing your own opinion on what you see in one article or bulletin. The world is not just black, or just white. Every person sees the world and its history in a different way, and the more you speak and understand others’ point of view, the more learned you will become.
Just a thought on a sunny Friday morning…
For your information, when I see Afghanistan, I see kebabs and fruits, old men smoking hashish in the parks, green tea being brewed on street corners, battered old cars that still carry on, black hair and green eyes. Most of them, just like you and me, revere family, love their friends, respect their wives as their culture dictates, play football or cricket in the park on weekends, drink tea and whose first instinct is to be helpful and smiling if someone approaches them.

And although I feel tense when walking around, I wonder how much of this is created in my head to what is actually happening out there…

Photo: Kids in the rain in Kenya

Took this picture while waiting for a rainshower to stop!

Wondering around the area of Kitale in Western Kenya, we came across a school lunch hour when we were actually doing some field work. The kids came out in droves and ducked for shelter during a heavy rain spell. We were in our vehicle and the rain just kept falling… Hope you like the picture. Over the course of the two days, we saw 1500 farmers and gave out vital information about a particularly nasty disease in Kenya on maize: Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease (sounds bad as well!)

Post: My talk on Afghanistan

Hi all,

If you have 20 minutes, you can view my talk on how to build a successful partnership model in Afghanistan.

Since 2011, I have been working with various partners, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, and the Aga Khan Foundation. We work in various provinces and the nature of the country’s social problems makes it hard to build a sustainable enterprise.

Nevertheless, we are well on the way, with 10 clinics being developed and running regularly in 2 provinces! We have plans for more this year, which means a greater number of farmers will have access to crop pest and disease information! Plantwise is in full swing!

The talks gives you a bit of background on Afghanistan, finding the right partners, training the staff, running clinics, and supporting the trained plant doctors with tools! As a bonus, you also get to see how cringe worthy I appear whilst talking to a (worldwide) audience!

This is the link to my video. Hope you like it! The password for watching the video is CABIJULIEN if watching directly from the vimeo website

If you are interested in learning more about CABI and Plantwise, have a look at the website:

http://www.plantwise.org

Post: the art of Queuing around the world

Queuing is one of the essentials in life

Yup, that democratic but infinitely boring (and stressful) concept that is one of the stalwarts of civilisation, and one that we do perhaps 5 times a day in an urban environment. We submit to the process of queuing almost subconsciously. It is engrained in our psyche. Personally, if I skip the line, I know I am doing something a bit wrong (the strength of the emotion depending on how much of an arsehole I feel at the time).

However, this is just in the UK, my country of origin. I know how it works here, when it is acceptable to cut the line, and when I cannot. When you travel to a new country for the first time, there are different rules, and you had better learn them, quickly.

Here is a list of various scenarios, and what to do in case you get it wrong Continue reading