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PlantVillage: using smartphones and smart crowds for food security

David Hughes

Originally posted on May 04, 2015

People need food and to grow that they need knowledge. Too often knowledge on plant health is inaccessible to growers around the world. Here I describe a new approach, using cell phones, to fundamentally transform the way knowledge on plant health is shared. Through the power of the crowd, our platform, PlantVillage (www.plantvillage.com) aims to make sure no-one experiences food insecurity because of a lack of knowledge.
PlantVillage: using smartphones and smart crowds for food security
David Hughes is an Assistant Professor of Entomology and Biology at Penn State. He grew up a poor kid in Dublin, Ireland and was kicked out of school at the age of 15. For a while he lived in a hostel and worked on a horse farm in the West of Ireland. There he first saw the scars of the Famine fields from 1847. He eventually went back to school at 19 before leaving Ireland to study at some of the finest Universities in the world (Oxford, Copenhagen, Harvard) but it is his experience of the American Land Grant school system that has most affected him. Here, at a shining example of such a school, Penn State, he thinks a lot about Ag and how to prevent future famines-not in Ireland but in Sub Saharan Africa, the Indian Sub-continent, and other developing regions. With Marcel Salathé, he developed PlantVillage—the world’s largest social network site around food plants. The goal is to fundamentally transform the way we share knowledge so we can grow more food for a 9 billion+ world.
This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx


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