Feed the Future
Current and Emerging Threats to Crops Innovation Lab



The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Current and Emerging Threats to Crops will focus on tackling pests, diseases and weeds of crops in a climate changed world.

The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Current and Emerging Threats to Crops will be built on the global platform, PlantVillage, that The Pennsylvania State University has developed in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (UN FAO), Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and National Agricultural Research Organizations (NAROs).

This platform approach will result in a cost-effective, highly efficient Innovation Lab with an integrated system that will enable collaborative research on novel approaches to monitor, predict and combat current and emerging threats to crops in a climate changed world.

The vision of our Current and Emerging Threats to Crops Innovation Lab is “FITTER FARMS in Five years”.

Current threats

For current threats, we following the FITTER approach: Forecast, Inspect, Training of Trainers, Evaluation and Research.

  • Forecasting: Enable the use of forecasting systems for biotic and abiotic stressors at the national and regional levels and build capacity for crop threat surveillance and forecasting
  • Inspecting: Determine the levels of pests and contribute to improve and update the forecaster.
  • Training: Build capacity for managing current threats with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) packages and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud computing, apps, and genetic testing to secure effective monitoring and surveillance (including phylogenomics and stress modeling).
  • Training of the Trainers: Build capacities of youth and women for the use of AI-based extension system to empower smallholder farmers and enable them to grow more food
  • Evaluation: Evaluate the success of control strategies on pest incidence using initial surveillance strategy.
  • Research: Evaluate existing IPM packages or develop new ones; improvement of surveillance tools and forecasting; socioeconomic impact on gender and youth

Emerging threats

For emerging threats, we following the FARMS approach: Forecast, Assess, Research, Market and Surveillance.

  • Forecast: Detection of anomalies through crop surveillance, remote sensing, and machine learning.
  • Assess: Rapidly assess any detected anomalies and work with local extension agencies and NAROs to manage and confirm new threats.
  • Research: Research-driven solutions for the control of confirmed emerging threats. Based on a collective consensus of Technical Committees.
  • Market: Engage with the private sector to accelerate market-based solutions.
  • Surveillance: Evaluate the different control strategies integrating the issues of gender/youth engagement and socioeconomic implications.

We believe that despite the enormous challenge of tackling biotic stressors (pests, diseases and weeds) against the backdrop of the existential threat of climate change the integration of the cutting edge technology, with strong, youth led local communities means we can have FITTER FARMS in Five years.

Land Grant Partners

Our Innovation Lab brings together

  • The Pennsylvania State University (PSU)
  • University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES)
  • Michigan State University (MSU)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Through UMES we intend to reach out to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutes (MSIs) to better integrate them into our Innovation Lab. The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Current and Emerging Threats to Crops intends to play an important role through their activities to support and strengthen MSIs role in international research and development.

Through our activities we would like to enable a close partnership between MIT, MSU, PSU and other 1862 Land Grants with all 1890 HBCUs and other MSIs in research capacity building and students training

Regional Centers

Regional Centers
  1. East/Southern Africa
  2. West Africa
  3. Central America
  4. Asia
Learn more about regional centers


Director David Hughes
Associate Director Rimnoma (Serge) Ouedraogo
Operations Director Annalyse Kehs
Administrative Assistant Melissa Ishler
Gender Specialists Paige Catellanos and Janelle Larson
International Agricultural
Development Specialist
Deanna Behring
IPM Specialist Ed Rajotte
Data analyst/GIS expert Fei Jiang
AI Engineer Peter McCloskey
Android Engineer Frank Doyle
Media Coordinator Mercy Tata