AGR*2150 Plant Agriculture for International Development

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The following description is for the course offering in Fall 2021 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, with a focus on Africa. This course is accessible to science and non-science students.

Pre-Requisite(s): 4.00 credits
Restriction(s): AGR*2470


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
  • 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(e.g. goats) and large ruminants (livestock, dairy)
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 Resources:

Agronomic and Associated Challenges and Solutions for Subsistence Farmers. (Readings)
Raizada, M.N. (2017). Free PDF will be posted on Courselink/D2L. There is no textbook for this course.

Other Resources in case of a lockdown

Lecture slides and readings will be posted on CourseLink/D2L, and Zoom recordings of lectures will be made available, but it is strongly preferred that you actively participate in live Zoom classes.

In the case of a lockdown, Tests and the Final Exam will be given online via Respondus Lockdown Browser. Respondus requires a Webcam, and Lockdown browser only works on Windows and MacOS. The only compatible tablet is an iPad. Google Chrome and Linux are not compatible. Students need to install Lockdown Browser on their machines. If there is a connectivity problem during an exam/midterm, please contact the Courselink Help Desk ASAP who will reconnect you during the exam. Students with special needs may receive special accommodation (e.g. more time to write an exam) by contacting Student Accessibility Services at the start of the semester:

To help ensure you have the best learning experience possible, please review the list of system and software requirements.

CourseLink System Requirements

This course is being offered using CourseLink (powered by D2L's Brightspace), the University of Guelph's online learning management system (LMS). By using this service, you agree to comply with the University of Guelph's Access and Privacy Guidelines. Please visit the D2L website to review the Brightspace privacy statement and Brightspace Learning Environment web accessibility standards.

You are responsible for ensuring that your computer system meets the necessary system requirements. Use the browser check tool to ensure your browser settings are compatible and up to date. (Results will be displayed in a new browser window).

Technical Skills: As part of your learning experience, you are expected to use a variety of technologies for assignments, lectures, teamwork, and meetings. In order to be successful in this course you will need to have the following technical skills:

  • Manage files and folders on your computer (e.g., save, name, copy, backup, rename, delete, and check properties);
  • Install software, security, and virus protection;
  • Use office applications (e.g., Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or similar) to create documents;
  • Be comfortable uploading and downloading saved files;
  • Communicate using email (e.g., create, receive, reply, print, send, download, and open attachments);
  • Quizzes, Discussions, and Grades (the instructions for this are given in your course); Access, navigate, and search the Internet using a web browser (e.g., Firefox, Internet
  • Explorer); and
  • Perform online research using various search engines (e.g., Web of Science) and library databases.

Contact your Teaching Assistant if you need support with any of the above.

Technical Support

If you need any assistance with the software tools or the CourseLink website, contact CourseLink Support.

Tel: 519-824-4120 ext. 56939 Toll-Free (CAN/USA): 1-866-275-1478

Support Hours (Eastern Time):
Monday thru Friday: 8:30 am–8:30 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am–4:00 pm
Sunday: 12:00 pm–6:00 pm

Library and Database Resources

As a student, you have access to the University of Guelph’s library collection, including both physical and electronic materials. For information on checking out or couriering  physical library items, accessing electronic journals and returning items to the library, visit the library's website:

If you are studying off campus and would like to access the library’s electronic resources, use the Off Campus Login and login using your Single Sign On credentials or using your  last name and library barcode:

Web of Science is the recommended online database for searching scientific journals:

Course Policies:

Obeying Covid Protocols During Lectures:

Please note that pandemic restrictions in place at the time of each lecture must be followed by everyone according to the guidelines provided by the University and the local public health unit. The pandemic is a community problem and we all need to actively participate in a community solution. Restrictions may include but not be limited to a vaccination requirement, proper use of appropriate PPE, hand sanitation, social distancing and other measures. Failure to comply with restrictions that are in place at the time of the lecture could result in the immediate cancelation of that lecture. Students would still be responsible for learning the material that was to be covered in that lecture regardless of the cancelation.

Late Grading and Missed Test Policy:

No makeups on tests are allowed, except in the case of a compassionate circumstance (death, extreme illness, etc.), however, please remember that you can drop the lowest test grade. Late assignments are deducted 20% per day except in an extreme circumstance. Failure to notify the Instructor prior to a due date or test date cannot be accommodated afterwards. These rules are not designed to be arbitrary, nor are they inflexible. They are designed to keep you organized, to ensure that all students have the same amount of time to work on assignments, and to help to return marked materials to you in the shortest possible time.

Grades and Feedback:

Unofficial assessment marks will be available in the Grades tool of the course website.

Your instructor will attempt to have grades posted online in a reasonable time after your submission. Once your assignments are marked you can view your grades on the course website by selecting Grades from the Tools dropdown menu on the navbar. Your course will remain open to you for seven days following the last day of the final exam period.

University of Guelph students can access their final grade by logging into WebAdvisor (using your U of G central ID).

Course Policy on Technology (in case of a lockdown)

In this course, it is your responsibility to ensure that you can access the course materials and complete online course requirements within the time allotted regardless of technological issues you may encounter including Internet and Wifi connections in case of a lockdown. Please anticipate technical challenges that you may face, as it cannot be used as an excuse for incomplete or late assignments or missed exams.

If CourseLink is not accessible for a significant period of time (not including scheduled maintenance) deemed by the course coordinator to have had an impact on students’ abilities to complete quizzes, deadlines will be extended.

Keep in mind that if your technology uses the University’s wireless network to access the Internet, the University’s acceptable use policy also comes into play.

Netiquette and Zoom Expectations (in case of a lockdown)

The course website, Zoom forum, videos and other online resources are considered the classroom, and thus the same protections, expectations, guidelines, and regulations used in face-to-face settings apply. Inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Examples of inappropriate online behavior include:

  • Posting inflammatory messages about your instructor or fellow students;
  • Using offensive language;
  • Copying or presenting someone else's work as your own;
  • Adapting information from the Internet without using proper citations or references;
  • Buying or selling term papers or assignments;
  • Posting, distributing or selling course materials without explicit written permission of theInstructor or Teaching Assistant who are the legal owners of these materials;
  • Having someone else complete your online test/exam for/with another student;
  • Stating false claims about lost exam answers or other assignment submissions;
  • Threatening or harassing a student or instructor;
  • Discriminating against fellow students, instructors, and/or TAs;
  • Using the course materials to promote profit-driven products or services;
  • Attempting to compromise the security or functionality of the learning management system; and
  • Sharing your username and password.
Dropbox Submissions

Assignments should be submitted electronically via the online Dropbox tool. When submitting your assignments using the Dropbox tool, do not leave the page until your assignment has successfully uploaded. To verify that your submission was complete, you can view the submission history immediately after the upload to see which files uploaded successfully. The system will also email you a receipt. Save this email receipt as proof of submission.

Be sure to keep a back-up copy of all of your assignments in the event that they are lost in transition. In order to avoid any last-minute computer problems, your instructor strongly recommend you save your assignments to a cloud-based file storage (e.g., OneDrive), or send to your email account, so that should something happen to your computer, the assignment could still be submitted on time or re-submitted.

It is your responsibility to submit your assignments on time as specified on the Schedule. Be
sure to check the technical requirements and make sure you have the proper computer, that you have a supported browser, and that you have reliable Internet access. Remember that technical difficulty is not an excuse not to turn in your assignment on time. Don’t wait until the last minute as you may get behind in your work.

If, for some reason, you have a technical difficulty when submitting your assignment electronically, please contact CourseLink Support.

Other Course Information:

Communicating with the Instructor

During the course, your Instructor will interact with you on various course matters using the following ways of communication:

Announcements: The Instructor will use Announcements on the Course Home page to provide you with course reminders and updates. Please check this section frequently for course updates from your instructor.

Scheduled Online Office Hours: By appointment only on Zoom. Please wait online to be admitted.

Email: If you have a conflict that prevents you from completing course requirements, or have a question concerning a personal matter, you can send your instructor a private message by email. The instructor will attempt to respond to your email within 2 business days. This may be followed up by a private Zoom call

Emailing Instructor

Email is used as an important source of updates about this course. All official email from the instructor will be sent to your University email account ( It is expected that you are checking this email account on a frequent basis. University policy prevents instructors from replying to a non-U of G email about anything to do with this course. The
instructor for this course is involved with other courses as well, just as you are. If you email the course instructor and would like a timely response, please keep in mind that over 200 other students may also be emailing the instructor about all the courses he is teaching this semester – it can be a lot of emails in a day. In order to facilitate an answer to your email, please consider the following guidelines:

  • include the course code (AGR2150) in the subject along with a few relevant key words indicating what your message is about
  • correspond with the instructor using your official University email only (, emails from other addresses could be screened as spam
  • if the answer to your email query can be found in the course outline or other material posted on the AGR2150 CourseLink site, you might not receive a reply
  • include your full name and student number in the email signature

Please allow 24 to 48 hours for a response to your query. Keep in mind that even before you complete your university degree, you will be corresponding with people who may become your employer. Practicing professional email communications right from the start is a good habit to get into.

University Policies

Academic Consideration

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the academic calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community, faculty, staff, and students  to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.

University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct. Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection. Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is detailed in the University Calenders:


The University of Guelph is committed to creating a barrier-free environment. Providing services for students is a shared responsibility among students, faculty and administrators. This relationship is based on respect of individual rights, the dignity of the individual and the University community's shared commitment to an open and supportive learning environment. Students requiring service or accommodation, whether due to an identified, ongoing disability or a short-term disability should contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS), formerly Centre for Students with Disabilities (CSD), as soon as possible.

For more information, contact CSD at 519-824-4120 ext. 56208 or email or visit the Student Accessibility Services website:

Course Evaluation Information

Your ratings and comments are important.  Course evaluation data are used to assess and enhance the quality of teaching and student learning at the University of Guelph.  Student course ratings and comments are used as an important component in the Faculty Tenure & Promotion process, and as valuable feedback to help instructors improve their teaching effectiveness and to improve the delivery of the course.

Your responses will not affect your grade.  Course evaluation data are distributed to individual instructors after final grades have been submitted to the Registrar, following the completion of each academic semester.

Please be honest, respectful, constructive and thorough.  Instructors and review committees place great value on student course ratings and read all comments provided in course evaluations. It is helpful to provide comments on the strengths of the course, in addition to the areas for improvement.  Please refrain from personal comments unless they relate to teaching and learning.

Click here for the University of Guelph Course Evaluation System