Blogs

Mr. Dunclapperton Omeru Memoir

Posted on January 21, 2020 by PlantVillage

FARE THEE, WELL COMRADE

PlantVillage Nuru is saddened by the sudden demise of late Mr. Dunclapperton Omeru on 10th January 2020 and would like to express our deep condolences to the family of the deceased, who will be laid to rest on 24th January 2020.

Mr. Omeru worked with PlantVillage as a seed entrepreneur since last year in Busia County Kenya. He came across as a very active and spirited person who took part in reaching out to other farmers to educate them on crop diseases and other agricultural services.  He was also a community health volunteer around Munongo village and helped as a caregiver to support children to acquire primary...Read more

The Dream Team 2020 expectations

Posted on January 15, 2020 by PlantVillage

The Dream Team 2020 expectations

Buckle up! The bar has been raised.

 

Another year full of expectations and like everybody, Dream Team expects growth. With New Year come new expectations, new resolutions, new strategies, new goals and plans. Dream team members have also set their New Year expectations and we couldn’t wait to share with everyone to help us grow. The team is as ready as ever to take up their new roles and responsibilities in ensuring that small holder farmers in Kenya are able to improve their livelihood when they produce more healthy crops.

I’d say healthy crops, wealthy Kenyan farmers!

Dream Team blog...Read more

2019 Wrap-Up & 2020 Expectations

Posted on January 2, 2020 by PlantVillage

Happy New Year PlantVillage community! While 2019 is over and 2020 has begun, whether we were ready or not, there is plenty to reminisce about over the past year. Below is a brief highlight of the major events that occurred at PlantVillage during 2019. 

  • Dream Team in Busia, Kenya

What started as a concept idea in June by Dr. John Chelal, plant pathologist lecturer at Moi University and PlantVillage’s project director, led to a full team deployment in August. The PlantVillage dream team, composed of 11 Moi University graduates, has been located in Busia, Kenya for the past 5 months, meeting with farmers and engaging in the...Read more

The Dream Team Blog 6: Exploring the physical features of Teso land - Busia County

Posted on December 12, 2019 by PlantVillage

If you are a fitness enthusiast and a lover of nature, then you should have fun reading this. One day you wake up and, Hey, we’re heading up the hills. So here we have two places, “Apatit” and another “Akitu Kare” translated to “two” mouths by the locals. Funny, right?

 So we head to the two mouths. The place is well endowed with beautiful rock structures and some tough hills.  On the hills, you won’t miss crops growing in between the rocks you would think it’s an intercrop of maybe maize and rocks or cassava and rocks. These rocks,...Read more

The Dream Team Blog 5: Cultures and Beliefs of Teso Community

Posted on December 4, 2019 by PlantVillage

CULTURE AND BELIEFS OF TESO COMMUNITY.

The Teso people are plain Nilotes who came from Sudan and came to Kenya through Uganda where they separated with the Karamojong community who remained in Uganda. They are an ethnic group in Eastern Uganda and Western Kenya. The Kenyan group entered Kenya through Malaba. Malaba is a Teso name meaning “crossing”. They settled in some regions of around Busia county and named the place according to the natural features and socio-cultural activities practiced in the area by then. Some of these areas include: 

Kokare- they named the place after the celebrations...Read more

The Dream Team Blog 4: Crops, Diseases, and More!

Posted on November 25, 2019 by PlantVillage

Busia county has been our home base for the past four months. Butula, Budalangi, Matayos, and Samia are the sub-counties that we visit. These-sub counties are more diverse with different tribes mainly; Luyha, Luo and Iteso. This makes it easier for us to communicate with people around Swahili being the common language shared. Our main aim is to reach out to the small scale farmers and disseminate information which has been possible with the help of lead farmers, their following farmers and attending their group meetings. Our presence in the area has transformed their perspective way of thinking that cassava diseases are...Read more

The Dream Team Blog 3: Working with Farmers for a Solution

Posted on November 18, 2019 by PlantVillage

Cassava is indispensable to food security in Busia. It is a staple food that is widely consumed, as it is a hardy crop that can be stored in the ground for a long period of time. It is used as a fallback source of food that can save lives during famine. Despite cassava being a major crop in the county, it has received relatively little attention compared to other Staples such as maize. The crop has long been threatened by the cassava brown streak as well as cassava mosaic.  These viruses are capable of destroying farmers’ fields if no intervention is offered leaving them with nothing to harvest. On the...Read more

Dream Team Blog 2: The Border County

Posted on November 12, 2019 by PlantVillage

 

In the South of Mt. Elgon, Teso plains offer sandy loam soils where most of the tuber crops do very well. The Iteso tribe is one of the plain Nilotic groups that adopted farming rather than pastoralism. Cassava is the main crop found in this area.  It is a source of food to almost every home and a cash crop for some of the farmers. They even have crisps and baking flour made from cassava. The Iteso people are so welcoming and most of them are eager to hear from new people who come to their place. 

 It is every morning’s trend to see students and farmers on bicycles headed to their day’s business. Almost...Read more

The Dream Team: An introduction

Posted on November 5, 2019 by PlantVillage

Inspired by the Dream Team’s in-field experiences

Hello, PlantVillage community! It has been quite the eventful and spectacular summer. We were fortunate to gain a new collaboration between us (PlantVillage at Penn State University), United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN FAO) and Moi University located in Eldoret, Kenya. This new partnership with Moi University began as an effort to engage and integrate Kenyan youth into agricultural and farming communities to help boost crop yields by disseminating knowledge in the face of climate change. Currently, we are 12 members strong. Most of the Dream team is composed of 5 groups...Read more

Lessons from ​a ​​​​​​smallholder farmer: Josephine using AI to select clean cassava planting material

Posted on May 4, 2019 by PlantVillage

Josephine is a farmer in Western Kenya who had a serious problem. In fact, more than one. She is one of the 28,000 farmers within the Self Help Africa (SHA) network, spread across 7 counties in Kenya. Through a large EU funded project SHA is building climate resiliency into these communities and promoting profit-making at the farm gate by helping farmers grow more cassava. This crop is widely recognized as a suitable choice in East Africa where the rains are becoming more erratic due to climate collapse. We wrote about this recently on PlantVillage

Cassava is capable of sustaining...Read more

Climate change happening now in Kenya

Posted on April 28, 2019 by PlantVillage

The long rains in Kenya have failed according to Acting Deputy Director of Kenya Meteorological Department Bernard Chanzu quoted in the Nairobi News.

Mr Chanzu blamed the failed rains on climate change.

According to Mr Chanzu, there’s no immediate rainfall in the horizon  and all the signs point to this state persisting to the end of the season.

‘BIGGER PICTURE’

“The bigger picture about prolonged dry spell which means a drought is foreseeable is growing increasingly clear,” he said on Tuesday, noting that their data shows that May would come and go without any rain.

The period has also...Read more

Stories from farmers using the PlantVillage AI driven knowledge tool

Posted on April 26, 2019 by PlantVillage

As you may know, we have been beta testing our AI assistant, Nuru, that is capable of diagnosing cassava viral and mite diseases in Busia County, Kenya.  We work with farmers in the Self Help Africa network. There are 28,000 farms in this network across 7 counties being helped by this excellent charity. The charity is trying to promote cassava which is a climate resilient crop. The farmers grow mainly maize, cassava, and bean.

 

We wanted to use this blogging platform to share stories of how the information tool is being experienced by the farmers. We want to share these stories also because we...Read more

Overview of the PlantVillage app

Posted on March 28, 2019 by PlantVillage

We wanted to create an overview of the PlantVillage app. We have both an android and iphone version. It is only the android version which can use the TensorFlow AI tool to diagnose diseases.

Here is an annotated guide to the PlantVillage app https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=plantvillage.nuru&hl=en

 

This is the first page you see 

 

When you click on the flashing icon you see 4 choices 

A key feature of PlantVillage is the use of our Arificual Intellgence that works inside the phone to diagnose crop diseases. 

 

Oh My-Ailanthus!”

Posted on July 22, 2018 by PlantVillage

From black instars to red to adult flies, the Spotted Lanternflies are quickly approaching their adult phase and the PlantVillage team is on top of it! Working closely with Don Seifrit, extension educator and Karen George, Master Gardener, we are continually collecting data from sticky bands down in the Reading and Lancaster areas. This past Wednesday, Annalyse and Pete went down again to capture more images and talk with locals on this pest.

 

 

In past visits, Annalyse and Pete helped count the nymphs on the sticky bands. Throughout one day, the maximum sticky bands they were able to replace was 19 with four people. However this past time we...Read more

Nuru at 2 weeks

Posted on July 9, 2018 by PlantVillage

It has been just two weeks since Nuru was released in her Beta or test phase. Our goal is to get her out there and understand how she performs. The strength of Nuru is that she works off-line and so can be used across regions where internet connectivity is poor or not present. But of course, we have to make sure that the diagnosis that she is providing is correct. So, in these two weeks, we have been testing Nuru with scientists who work in UN FAO field offices in Ethiopia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and with colleagues in Ghana and Burundi. Nuru was also used by farmers in Kenya and Uganda. So, in just two weeks Nuru was used for fall armyworm in 7 African...Read more

Spotted Lantern Fly Project in PA

Posted on June 8, 2018 by PlantVillage

The PlantVillage team is working on a problem that is locally important too. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is experiencing a big problem at the moment with an invasive insect called Spotted Lantern Fly. This is a  plant-feeding insect that can cause a lot of damage to crops like grape, but also is a massive problem to the timber industry because it prevents exports from Pennsylvania to other states.  You can learn more about that pest here http://www.agriculture.pa.gov/Plants_Land_Water/PlantIndustry/Entomology/spotted_lanternfly/Pages/default.aspx

It is therefore really important to know where the pest is...Read more

Be aware and beware crop-pathogen-environment interactions

Posted on April 18, 2018 by PlantVillage

By Rob Williams 

We are all aware that different genotypes (varieties, cultivars) within a crop species can react very differently to pathogens and pathogen-vectors. This allows the selection and development of disease-resistant crop varieties.

We should also understand that the same crop genotype, i.e. a single variety or cultivar, can produce very different reactions to a specific pathogen even at one location in response to local variation in environmental factors.

The occurrence and implications of crop-pathogen-environment interactions need to be understood, considered and managed in research on crop...Read more

TensorFlow Summit

Posted on April 10, 2018 by PlantVillage

On March 30th we attended Google's TensorFlow summit where a documentary commissioned by Google featured our work using TensorFlow for cassava farmers. Amanda Ramcharan and Pete McCloskey from PlantVillage were joined by Latifa Mrisho from IITA. It was a very exciting event and wonderful to have Google feature us after many years of support. Many thanks to Pete Warden and Vint Cerf for their continued support. 

Amanda, Pete and Latifa also got to meet Jeff Dean who is now head of Google AI. Turns out Jeff used to live in Uganda and is very knowledgeable about Cassava which is great :) 

 

 

New site layout

Posted on March 28, 2018 by PlantVillage

Hi folks We are launching a new look to PlantVillage. The goal is to provide more details on the capacity building we are doing with extension services, and to showcase our work with AI, drones, satellites and other tech we think can help smallholder farmers. more soon -david

World Bank event and NURU testing in IITA

Posted on March 7, 2018 by PlantVillage

Hi all We are having a busy week here. I spent Monday and Tuesday in DC at the World Bank Annual Agriculture meeting. We got to share our work with field officers from the bank who are stationed across the world. We unveiled our AI assistant NURU which people were really impressed with. Still in the beta version but the potential is extremely high and people recognized that which is great. At the same time I was chatting the team in Tanzania (team leader, Amanda Ramcharan, engineer Pete McCloskey and undergraduate Annalyse Kehs) were running Nuru through her paces and testing her against the excellent team at IITA, Tanzania (team...Read more

Blog is back

Posted on February 24, 2018 by PlantVillage

Hi all We will be starting up the blog again to provide updates and general news

PlantVillage 2.0

Posted on March 24, 2014 by PlantVillage

It's hard to believe that it's already been a bit over a year since with launched PlantVillage. We're excited how well it has fared. We'll spare you the numbers for now, but we're breaking usage records on a almost a daily basis now. Today we are excited to announce PlantVillage 2.0. As you browse around, you will find two major upgrades: 1. Content is more accessible now. It's easier to jump between library entries and Q & As. The site also looks gorgeous on a any mobile device. 2. We are introducing "PlantJournals", an easy way for you to upload images and notes for your various projects (whether garden or farm). We'll write more in the near future, but...Read more

A tale of two villages

Posted on March 23, 2013 by PlantVillage

Growing our own food is a hallmark of human societies. It is the single biggest technological achievement we have made as a species and the ways we grow food are always changing, always adapting, always evolving. It is important to realize that nothing is written in stone and we can change things in which ever way we want. Here at PlantVillage we think about the potential for change a lot. We think about how people growing food- whether that are in Nebraska or Nigeria -could be connected to a world wide web of other growers through the phones in their pockets or the computers in their homes. And so we are extremely excited to be working with the good...Read more

Badges

Posted on March 12, 2013 by PlantVillage

We're excited to announce that we just rolled out a major new feature: badges. Badges is PlantVillage's way of showing others how much you have contributed, and how much the community valued your contributions. You can get badges for providing answers, questions, comments; for getting picked as the provider of most helpful answers; for participating in the community by voting; etc. Example of badges
Example of badges
Badges come in three levels: level 1 (brown), level 2 (green), and level 3 (gold). Level 1 badges are awarded to contributors who are just starting out. Level 2 badges are awarded to contributors who are regularly participating in the community. Level 3 badges are awarded...Read more

Some like it hot!

Posted on March 1, 2013 by PlantVillage

As you know, PlantVillage is all about knowledge sharing on edible plants. And as we post new plants, we provide some small details to go with on our blog. Today we have a plant that many people say is inedible - so why is it still here on PlantVillage? It is of course the Chili Pepper. The name Chili Pepper refers to the fruit of a number of different species of plants in the genus Capsicum, including Capsicum annuum (e.g. jalapeños and cayennes), C. frutescens (e.g. tabasco and piri piri), C. chinense (e.g. habaneros and Scotch bonnet), C. pubescens (e.g. rocoto and locoto) and C. baccatum (e.g. aji peppers). And there are also hybrids. Some of these are...Read more

New plants & new features

Posted on February 27, 2013 by PlantVillage

It's always growing season at PlantVillage! Even though we just launched less than a month ago, the user base and the number of contributions are growing rapidly. At the same time, PlantVillage itself is growing up - both in terms of content, and in terms of the features that we're adding. We've just added four new plants: Anise Bergamot Black Pepper Cassava, or Manioc which brings our total of plants to 88. We're also adding a new feature that we think will help people find great answers even faster: the ability to select an answer as the most helpful. This is a feature that is available to anyone asking questions: if you've asked a question on...Read more

New crop alert: Cocoa-The food of the Gods

Posted on February 21, 2013 by PlantVillage

PlantVillage is constantly updating and we add new crops regularly. When we do we will make an announcement here on our blog. Drumroll please: We have a Cocoa page! Of the 80 plus crops we have now I would have to say Cocoa is the one I get most excited about. This is a tree from the Upper Amazon that was widely cultivated by the Mayans and Incas of South America well before Europeans arrived. The first European to discover it was none other than Christopher Columbus when he landed in Nicaragua in 1502. It was very important to both Native peoples and Europeans, and in recognition of this, its Latin name Theobroma cocoa is a...Read more

Common knowledge and experts

Posted on February 17, 2013 by PlantVillage

There is a wonderful event in the study of plant diseases which goes like this. In the fields of Bordeaux in SW France there are lots of grapes. The wine is world famous and growing grapes has long been a mainstay of the economy. It is said that in the 19th Century, farmers would prevent local kids from stealing and eating their grapes by applying a foul tasting dye along the pathways where young boys walked. During periodic epidemics of fungal diseases, a now famous French scientist called Pierre Marie Alexis Millardet is said to have noted that those plants sprayed with the dye were healthy and did not succumb to infection (a downy mildew...Read more

The inaugural PlantVillage post: Part 2

Posted on February 16, 2013 by PlantVillage

Like David, I’m super excited about PlantVillage. PlantVillage is a simple idea – provide an open access system to connect people, helping each other to grow food. It seems easy enough, and in 2013, you would think that such a system exists. We looked at some of the systems out there, and we didn’t like what we saw, so we decided that we’d like to build a better system. The features that we built into PlantVillage – ease of use, open access, community driven– are not earth shattering per se. But put together, they provide a powerful platform. So let me take a moment to talk about these features. Ease of use: You’ll find that...Read more

The inaugural PlantVillage post: Part 1

Posted on February 16, 2013 by PlantVillage

This is the inaugural blog post for PlantVillage. So some explanation of why it has come about and the history behind the platform is needed. Humans are agriculturalists! Perhaps the most important invention our species made was the ability to grow crops. And since the beginning, knowledge of better ways to grow has spread between people. But things have changed in recent decades for a number of reasons. For the first time in our history more than half of us live in urban settings and so removed from the soil that gives us food. Increasingly food is produced in mega farms in developed countries by massive businesses. And the...Read more