Invisible insects? The insects in question are not actually invisible, but they do fly high enough for their movement to have gone largely unnoticed. The huge numbers of insects – about 3.5 trillion each year – were recorded flying over the southern UK using a special-purpose vertical-looking radar invented by Professor Joe Riley and Alan Smith during their time at NRI in the 1990s. Their radar was the main technique used in a decade-long insect monitoring study. This long period of continuous monitoring made it possible to produce an overview of total numbers of insects and their ‘biomass’ or amount of living matter, which amounted to about 3,200 tonnes of insects per year. The analyses of this study, carried out by a multinational group of scientists from Exeter University, Rothamsted Research, NRI, and the Hebrew University and the University of Haifa, in Israel, were recently published in Science.
Better nutrition for a growing population is a major challenge of our time. In order to provide a healthy and sustainable diet for all, it is necessary to have a clear and accurate picture of current agricultural food systems. By improving standards for collecting and measuring data and developing innovative methodologies for evaluating agriculture and food systems, scientists will be able to build a robust evidence base which in turn will guide actions to improve nutrition. To that end, NRI has recently been awarded two research grants, both of which are looking to develop innovative methodologies and tools for capturing and measuring data, leading to more effective interventions to improve nutrition.
Rats are everywhere. They cause damage in a multitude of ways, from destroying field crops, to eating and contaminating stored food, spreading serious diseases among people and animals and destroying infrastructure. Rodents can even cause house and farm fires by biting through electrical cables. NRI, together with research teams from six African countries, have been working on a project known as ‘StopRats’ which aims to significantly reduce the impact of rodents on people’s lives.
Miranda Elsby is a current student on NRI’s MSc in Agriculture for Sustainable Development. In September, Miranda was selected to be a ‘student reporter’ at the annual Conference on Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural and Natural Resource Management, also known as Tropentag 2016. This conference addresses issues of resource management, environment, agriculture, forestry, fisheries, food, nutrition and related sciences in the context of rural development, sustainable resource use and poverty alleviation worldwide, and this year’s theme was ‘Solidarity in a competing world – fair use of resources’.
Kale crisps, seaweed, sweet potato bars…avocado with everything – these recent food trends have captured the attention of many consumers. But how do these foods make it onto our plates? Food innovation is all about identifying novel ingredients and developing new products that people want to buy and eat. Do you have the creativity to come up with the next big food trend? Study the MSc in Food Innovation offered by NRI and the Department of Life & Sports Sciences at the University of Greenwich and you’ll be equipped with the skills and know-how to create value-added products along a sustainably developed food chain.
Do you work in the food sector or anywhere along the food chain? Would you like to progress further in your career but lack academic qualifications? Study on the new Food Safety and Quality Management (FSQM) e-learning programme offered by the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich and you can gain a qualification on a part-time basis through on-line study.
The programme combines the best of NRI’s long-established experience of food value chains with the flexibility of a fully comprehensive e-learning programme which allows students to learn from any location in the world, at a pace best suited to their needs, for a duration of three to six years. You can apply to study for a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, or go on to study the full Master’s degree (MSc). Partial fee scholarships are currently available for this programme for outstanding applicants. A scholarship reduces the cost of the programme to £5,400 for the full MSc (£1,800 per year if studied over three years), equating to £900 for 30 credits of study. Apply now and start your studies in January 2017!
Meet Hajar el Hamss, current PhD student at NRI whose work focuses on the interactions between whitefly, the bacteria inside whitefly, and a virus causing a devastating disease affecting the tropical root and important food security crop, cassava. Today, it is Hajar’s turn to be under the microscope as we take a close look at her career path and explain her passion for solving scientific puzzles.
Ghana, 5–8 September, 2016
Press release written by: Nicola Swann
Members of the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) network – including postharvest experts from over 30 sub-Saharan African countries and representatives from FAO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – gathered in Accra this month, to attend the launch of APHLIS+.
Launched in 2009, APHLIS is a scientific model which provides evidence-based estimates on postharvest cereal losses (PHLs) across 38 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Saturday 20th August is World Mosquito Day. It might seem strange to ‘celebrate’ the mosquito, given their role in the spread of many infectious diseases, such as yellow fever, West Nile Virus and the recent global health emergency created by the Zika virus. However, the relationship between mosquitoes and the spread of disease was not always known. World Mosquito Day celebrates the discovery of the role mosquitoes play in malaria transmission. On this day in 1897, Sir Ronald Ross made a breakthrough that would later earn him a Nobel Prize in Medicine when he found malaria parasites in dissected mosquitoes of the genus Anopheles. By identifying mosquitoes as the agents that spread the parasite from person to person, Ross opened the way for us to reduce the risk of malaria infection by controlling the mosquito itself.