AGR*2150 Plant Agriculture for International Development

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The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2019 and is subject to change. It is provided for information only. The course outline distributed to the class at the beginning of the semester describes the course content and delivery, and defines the methods and criteria to be used in establishing the final grades for the course.

This course will provide students interested in international development with an introductory mechanistic understanding of the biology underlying crop production in developing nations. Emphasis will be placed on simple, low-cost solutions from biology that have the potential to aid efforts in international development. This course is accessible to science and non-science students.

Emphasis will be placed on simple, low-cost solutions from biology that have the potential to aid efforts in international development, with a focus on Africa.


Teaching Assistant:

Credit Weight:


Course Level:

  • Undergraduate

Academic Department (or campus):

Department of Plant Agriculture



Semester Offering:

  • Fall

Class Schedule and Location:

Please refer to Web Advisor for class schedule and location.

Learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  1. have awareness of a toolkit of practical technologies and information that is available to help subsistence farmers in both sub-tropical and tropical environments

  2. better communicate with agricultural scientists including breeders, agronomists, pathologists and soil scientists in real-world farm aid projects in developing nations

  3. have a basic understanding of subsistence agriculture as measured by being able to read project proposals and reports by non-governmental organizations (NGO, e.g. Oxfam, Gates Foundation) that focus on improving food production in developing nations

  4. have a critical awareness of credible global institutions and companies that conduct research or distribute products for subsistence farmers, in order to assist future aid efforts.

  5. have a critical awareness of authoritative online resources and databases available on the topics of subsistence agriculture, in order to assist future aid efforts

  6. understand the complexity of subsistence farming in order to prevent interventions that might cause more damage than good because they have unintended impacts on other parts of the local farm system

  7. critically communicate, in a short written format, the advantages or disadvantages of an agricultural technology in terms of its holistic impacts on human health, livelihoods, the environment and private sector trade, as if working for a global aid organization

  8. ask certain critical questions of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that are attempting to assist subsistence farmers, including questions related to intervention choices related to seeds, chemical inputs, equipment and value addition

Lecture Content:

Topics to be covered in lectures includes:

  • Introduction to subsistence agriculture and Africa
  • Intro to genetics
  • Intro to breeding
  • Consequences of natrual selection, ancient breeding and modern breeding
  • Essential background to Genetically modified organisms: Intro to molecular genetics
  • Intro to cereal crops
  • Intro to root crops and starchy trees
  • Intro to legumes and biological nitrogen fixation
  • Introduction to micronutrients
  • Introduction to fruits and vegetables and their seeds as micronutrient sources
  • Planting and choice of the cropping system
  • Conservation farming and hillside farming
  • Integrated nutrient management
  • Water
  • Weeds
  • Pests and Pathogens
  • Cooking, cooking fuel and cooking oil
  • Careers and finding your passion
  • Making a profit from agriculture - post-harvest food processing, value addition, agri-business
  • Intro to fisheries and poultry, small ruminants and large ruminants
Labs & Seminars:

Course Assignments and Tests:

Assignment or Test
Contribution to Final Grade

In-Class Tests (best 3 out of 4)


1 page Essay Draft


First Complete Draft Essay


Social Media Assignment


Revised Essay


Final Exam


Final examination:

Please refer to Web Advisor for exam schedule and location.

Course Resources:

Required Texts:

AGR2150 Course notes: Raizada, M.N. (2017) Agronomic and Associated Challenges and Solutions for Subsistence Farmers. Free PDF will be posted on Courselink/D2L.

Recommended Texts:


Lab Manual:


Other Resources:

Lecture slides and readings will be posted on Courselink/DL2, but this will be no substitute to coming to lectures. Additional readings will be posted online.

Field Trips:


Additional Costs: 


Course Policies:

Grading Policies:
  • No makeups on tests except without a medical note or severe emergency (death, etc.)
  • Late assignments are deducted 20% per day except with a medical note.
Course Policy on Group Work:

There is no group work in this course.

Course Policy regarding use of electronic devices and recording of lectures:

Electronic recordings are permitted but they are solely for the use of the authorized student and may not be reproduced, or transmitted to others, including the media, without the express written consent of the instructor.

Other Course Information:

University Policies

Academic Consideration

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The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


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