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

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Post: My new article in “World Agriculture” journal

http://www.world-agriculture.net/article/57/Uganda-Agrochemical-dealers-practises-and-interactions-with-farmers

My article, recently published on “World Agriculture” discusses how agrochemical dealers, the equivalent to pharmacists in the agricultural world, cope with the necessity to run a profitable business in Uganda, whilst being able to give farmers safe efficient and practical advice.

Don’t worry, the link is just a summary. Whoever wants a full copy, let me know.

Julien

Photo: a bit of art in the fruit market of Kabul

These two guys were listening in to my interview of a farmer in Kabul fruit market. I was asking the farmer whether the information on the disease factsheet was accurate in relation to his crop. He was just talking about the improvements we can make to the factsheet when these two came round and started giving thier opinions. The more the better, and the factsheet for coddling moth on apple is now finished, and has been distributed to all major Afghan government department in rural areas. Thanks for the input guys!

These two guys were listening in to my interview of a farmer in Kabul fruit market. I was asking the farmer whether the information on the disease factsheet was accurate in relation to his crop. He was just talking about the improvements we can make to the factsheet when these two came round and started giving thier opinions. The more the better, and the factsheet for coddling moth on apple is now finished, and has been distributed to all major Afghan government department in rural areas. Thanks for the input guys!

Photo: The 5th, less popular beatle

Dung beetles literally live and feed on crap. There are 7000 species of them and can be found everywhere apart from Antarctica! Not my cup of tea, but hey, whatever flicks their switch! I hope this doesn’t spoil your appetite!

Photo: the traditional salt fields

Back in the old days, salt was taken directly from the sea, using progressively shallower pools where the salt becomes more concentrated as the water evaporates. The job is a tough one, as the salt needs to be scraped off the cement pool floors everyday. It was a great experience in a beautiful Croatian village called Ston, north of Dubrovnik

Back in the old days, salt was taken directly from the sea, using progressively shallower pools where the salt becomes more concentrated as the water evaporates. The job is a tough one, as the salt needs to be scraped off the cement pool floors everyday. This picture is showing the last stages, where the salt gets split into piles and put in a warehouse. It was a great experience in a beautiful Croatian village called Ston, north of Dubrovnik. Unfortunately, these traditional activities are not used often anymore.

Post: The definition of personal space around the world

I am by nature a sociable character. I enjoy big crowds, clubs and being one of many, witnessing a special moment. However, the feeling of social togetherness can sometimes be replaced by one of panic and invasion of privacy: a packed underground tube in London is a perfect example. Suffering someone else’s elbow, large protruding cameras (from tourists) or garlicky breath (shudder…) is enough to make the best of us wish for the ability to develop a superhuman force-field, zapping anything that comes within 6 feet.

Why does this feeling exist? When does this concept of “personal space” manifests itself? Is it natural? Does everyone feel the same way when someone is walking too close behind them, or your colleague’s face is too close to you for accepted social interaction (smooching at a Christmas party not included)?

As I have discovered in my travels, invasion of privacy (which I define as personal space) is seen and felt differently across various cultures. Our physical “area” depends on where you are in the world.

Interestingly, the boundaries of our personal space have been studied extensively in the past. The field of “proxemics” developed by E.T. Hall in the 1960s, studies the concept of immediate personal space surrounding a person. Indeed, as the diagram below shows, personal space can be separated into intimate, personal, social and public interactions.

The concept of personal space, developed by Edward T. Hall (click to make larger)

Depending on the type of social situation, a projected “safe” distance was discovered as acceptable interaction between two individuals. If an individual has strayed too close to you, he has invaded your privacy.

As said above, this distance is seen differently around the world, and this may be due to various cultural and physical factors:

  • National population densities: people who were brought up in low to medium population density countries will have been used to more physical space around them than highly populated countries.  This seems obvious to me. We cannot compare the pressure of overcrowding between Olso, Norway, and rush hour in Manila, Philippines.
  • Financial strength: people with greater financial clout will live with more luxury, meaning they have more exclusivity and privacy. For example, a chauffeur driven executive will be more aware of his personal space being invaded when using public transport than a worker bee who regularly uses it.
  • Public infrastructure: On the other side of the coin, if local public infrastructure is modern and well maintained then they should better able to cope with large amount of people using it. These will be more comfortable and have a greater sense of liberty of movement, and more personal space.
  • Existing cultural social interactions: All over the world, families, tribes, castes and neighbours interact differently. A large family in India will share a plot of land, members of the same tribe will share a room  in Democratic Republic of Congo, and secluded regions of Europe, such as the Basque country or the Island of Corsica, will not integrate society as their social bonds are defended aggressively.

All the factors above force individuals to view privacy differently.

For example, in India, which has seen a 300% rise in population since 1961 (compared to 23% in England), their concept of personal space has been shaped by having to cope with a greater amount of people, especially the new generations. Rush hour at the train station in Mumbai truly has to be seen to be believed.

Do people who have been around crowds all their lives act like I do in the tube in London, between Oxford Street and Shepherd’s Bush on the central line (for those who don’t know, trust me it is a horrible adventure)? Not at all. They are passive and almost become one single organism, resting on each other, reading the newspaper together, one even buying chai for their neighbour. Do you imagine buying a can of coke for the dude who kept pushing his metal briefcase against your nether region?

I sincerely bow down to their stoicism and companionship. They know that if they acted selfishly, began to get angry and wanted more space, the sheer press of bodies would become a truly dangerous animal, ready to crush them all.

Indeed, in his fantastic book “Shantaram”, Gregory David Robert ‘s cynical French friend Didier stated: “If India was composed of a billion French people, the rivers would run red”.

We all are an individual, but sometimes we have to accept the inevitable consequence of being 7 billion on this planet. Life will get more busy as we are projected to reach over 9 billion. I accept that I have the right to my own space, but in certain situations, you have to forgive and forget, and become one with everybody around you.

Just not on the London tube… please…