PlantVillage University Seminar Series

First Series!

Register for the event here!

 PlantVillage is launching our University style series of seminars targeted at African youth in Agriculture! We aim to bring education from world experts to the youth who are interested or working in agriculture. Correspondingly we aim to bring the questions from African youth to world leading researchers. African youth are too often excluded from such dialogue but PlantVillage believes they are key to successfully growing enough nutritious food in the face of climate change.

 David Hughes, Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Global Food Security at Penn State and Founder of PlantVillage, will be introducing the seminar and participating in discussions and Q&A. Dr. John Chelal, who is Head of his department in plant pathology at Moi University, Country Director for PlantVillage and founder of DT Agro Consultancy Ltd. Winnie Onyango, logistics coordinator and field officer will moderate the events and Annalyse Kehs, PlantVillage Operations Director, will provide technical assistance. 

 The series began Thursday May 27 and will continue for a period of 3 weeks with a 1 week break each month. New speakers will be announced by Tuesday, end of day, the latest. Webinar recordings are sent out the following Monday.

Each event will be recorded and posted here and on our PlantVillage Nuru Youtube channel. You can register for the event here!


Nature Based Solutions for FAW - Rhett Harrison (ICRAF), May 27, 2021

Here is the link to the recorded webinar on our Youtube channel.

Here is a link to Rhett's previous webinar with FAO and general information about their Webinar series on Global Action for FAW

Rhett Harrison is a Senior tropical forest ecologist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and chair of FAO technical working group for agroecological approaches of FAW management under the global action for FAW. He is currently based in Zambia and will be continuing from his talk at FAO on Nature Based Solutions for FAW Management.

SupPlant Irrigation Technology - Tom Lahad (SupPlant), June 3, 2021

Watch the recorded presentation here

Tom Lahad is executive Co-Chairman of SupPlant. At SupPlant, he works with a team to achieve their mission of equipping farmers with actionable agronomic insights through transforming the way we irrigate farmland. Their sensor technology combined with AI is proven to save water and improve farm productivity and yields, globally. Tom lives in the north of Israel, in a community that grows Avocados and pomegranates and is proud of his tractor license. You can find more information about SupPlant here


The link to the video played in the webinar is here


Nature Based Solutions for FAW - Ivan Cruz (EMBRAPA), June 7, 2021

Dr. Ivan Cruz is an entomologist focusing on IPM and biological control strategies with Embrapa maize & sorghum (Brazilian Agricultural Research Cooperation). Dr. Cruz will continue his talk from an FAO event and engage in disucssions around his work “Success of Biological control of Spodoptera frugiperda in maize in areas of small-scale producers (family farmers) in Brazil”.

The link to the recorded webinar can be found here

Agroforestry in South Africa - Dr. Phokele Maponya, July 15, 2021

The recording from the seminar with Dr. Phokele can be found here

Dr Phokele Maponya ( holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Management from the University of the Free State, a Hons (Agricultural Economics) from the University of Pretoria, Masters in Human Ecology (Food Security & Rural Development) from the University of South Africa and a PhD (Environmental & Agricultural) from the University of South Africa and have more than 15 years Teaching, Research and Project Management experience and achieved the following: acted as a reviewer for various journals including African Journal of Business and Economic Research, Journal of Agribusiness and Rural Development and Journal of Asian and Africa Studies and served in various journal’s editorial boards including Journal of Agricultural Science and Asian Journal of Agricultural Extension, Economics and Sociology and served as a project manager for some agroforestry, food security, rural development related projects. Dr P Maponya have a good student supervision record, having supervised 1 Honors and 10 Masters Students to completion at the University of South Africa, University of Johannesburg, North West University, University of the Free State and Tshwane University of Technology. He also served as an external examiner for Masters and PhD students and currently supervising 5 PhD students and 1 Masters student in the field of Agroforestry, Rural Development and Food Security at the University of Pretoria, North West University, University of the Free State and University of Kwazulu Natal. He published more than 25 articles in different international peer reviewed journals; 27 peer reviewed local & international conference proceedings, 1 book and 5 book chapters and worked at the University of South Africa; Development Bank of Southern Africa and did Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Johannesburg and was also appointed by the University of Johannesburg as a Senior Research Associate for two years. He is currently employed at the Agricultural Research Council as a Senior Researcher: Smallholder Farmer and Enterprise Development. Some of his career highlights includes being awarded Y Rating (Agricultural Rural Development & Environmental Management) by the National Research Foundation, Registered as a Professional Scientist (Agricultural Sciences)  by SACNASP, Winner of 2016 Gauteng Department of  Agriculture and Rural Development  9th Annual Research Symposium Best Poster Presentation, Winner of 2016 Agricultural Research Council Young Researcher Excellence Category, Winner of 2017 ARC VOP Crop Science Division Excellence in Smallholder Farmer Support Category, Winner of 2017 ARC VOP Crop Science Division Most Publication Category, Awarded two International best papers on Agroforestry & Food Security during 3rd World Irrigation Forum and 2019 International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage held in Indonesia, Bali and currently serving as an agroforestry expert for RE-NATURE (Amsterdam).He also designed various assessment tools that informed training and knowledge in the field of Agroforestry, Smallholder Farmer Development, Rural Development and Food Security.

Carbon Harvesting with Dr. David Hughes

Chemical Ecology of Plant-Insect Interactions - Bipana Paudel Timilsena

Bipana Timilsena  joined us on July 1st to give a brief overview of her thesis and answer questions. Here is a link to the recording

Dr. Bipana Timilsena, an entomologist from Pennsylvania State University, focuses on the chemical ecology of plant-insect interactions and has been graciously contributing her knowledge to work with PlantVillage on fall armyworm surveillance and modeling.

Cassava Viruses - Dr. James Legg (IITA), July 22

Join us for our 6th seminar on July 22, 2021 with Dr. James Legg (, a plant virologist working with IITA-Tanzania (Dar es Salaam). Dr. Legg has been a pioneer in the field of cassava virology and combined his expertise with PlantVillage to create a machine learning object detection model that diagnoses foliar symptoms of cassava, offline, in a smartphone, twice as good as a Tanzanian extension agent

Series #7 - Simeon Masiga, Agribusiness, Market Linkages and Village Savings

View the recording here

Simeon Masiga has spent his life using his personal and career experiences for the benefit of smallholder farmers and youths in the society. Having being born and brought up in Busia County, Simeon knows how small holder farmers in Busia County are affected by Socio-economic conditions. He also provides services for children in the society by providing solar lanterns to pupils to help them improve their studies.

He knows there is no single approach that works for everyone, so he continues to educate himself on emerging issues and trends to help farmers not only to address today’s most critical issues, but to prepare for issues on the horizon. These are national and global issues that demand an informed approach from governments, global organizations, communities, and individuals. Rising to these challenges will demand reliable data, innovative thinking, and a global perspective

He has experience in Agri-business, Agri-entrepreneurship and Table banking; working towards empowering small scale farmers in the society.

Through Research Triangle Institute(RTI), his training areas was mainly on Agri-business, Agri-nutrition, Women on Village Savings &Loans, Financial and market linkages. He was able to reach to about 2880 farmers who were enabled to access funds within their group and outside the group through table banking. This linkage was achieved due to good built relationship between the group members. Market accessibility was achieved both locally and in the neighbour country Uganda. 

In nutrition, Simeon was able to reach 35 women groups within the five sub-counties of Busia County; namely Nambale, Butula, Matayos, Samia and Teso south. According to him, nutrition starts with what we eat, and by working on our food systems, on the way we produce, collect, store, transport, transform and distribute foods, we can improve our diets, our health and our impact on natural resources.

He received his A level education at Busia Forward School, Community Development Course at Nairobi Institute of Business Studies and also Business Management Course at Kenya Institute of Management, Nairobi.

Simeon is currently undertaking child support volunteer services, linking schools with Solar lamps companies. He also does volunteer trainings for women groups and people Living with disability groups in his community at Busia, Samia Sub-county, where he lives with his wife and two young children.

Connect with Simeon:

+254 768711882
Networking Site: s.masiga

Gender & Youth in Agriculture with Janelle Larson

Youth & Digital Agribusiness with Oliver Ndwega

Biodiversity in Agriculture for People and the Planet - Fabrice Declerck(EAT),September 30,2021

Fabrice DeClerck PhD is the Science Director of EAT and a Senior Scientist with the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT of the CGIAR. For the past twenty years he has led research at the interface of environment, agriculture and human health – notably contributing to the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems. He has had the privilege of working with a diversity of food system actors from across the globe, notably small farmers and farming communities in Africa, Latin America and Asia. His current projects and collaborations include IPBES Assessments, the Blue Food Assessment, The Food System Economics Commission and the Earth Commission. Fabrice feels strongly that food, from production to consumption, is a major solution space for both people and planet.

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