"In view of the current food and financial crises, high priority should now be placed on reducing postharvest losses." This was the view expressed by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Food Security and Nutrition, David Nabarro, at a meeting on this subject held last week in Rome.
On behalf of the United Nations Word Food Programme (WFP), Dr Keith Tomlins, a Food Technologist at NRI has recently studied the feasibility of the local manufacture of fortified blended-foods in Liberia. Liberia is a post-conflict economy and malnutrition remains a serious problem. To alleviate malnutrition, WFP imports Corn Soya Blend (CSB) that is distributed in supplementary feeding programmes for young children, lactating mothers and pregnant women. WFP is seeking to replace imported CSB with a product that has the same nutritional specifications but is comprised of ingredients that are sourced from Liberia or from neighbouring countries. This will contribute to agribusiness development in Liberia while at the same time improve food security.
NRI's Professor of Development Anthropology, John Morton, recently participated in the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an event attended by over 5000 scientists and science educators from around the world.
International Women's Day is a day to celebrate the success of women and to raise awareness of the struggles of women around the world. The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) of the University of Greenwich is proud to support this important day and to highlight the challenges women face in developing countries.
The University of Greenwich has announced that it has appointed Professor Andrew Westby to be Director of the Natural Resources Institute (NRI). He will take up his new post on 1 May 2010 and will replace Dr Guy Poulter who will be stepping down after successfully leading the Institute for the past eight years.
Horticultural entomology in the 21st century Jerry Cross, Visiting Professor of Horticultural Entomology
Jerry Cross, Visiting Professor of Horticultural Entomology, gave his inaugural lecture to an audience of more than 120 in the Pilkington Lecture Theatre on the Medway Campus on Thursday 11 February 2010. Professor Cross is Science Team Leader for Entomology and Plant Pathology at East Malling Research and entitled his lecture "To spray or not to spray: that is the question" (2.8Mb).
Don Reynolds, a member of NRI?s Agriculture, Health and Environment Group, has co-authored a study published in Science*, which sheds new light on the flight behaviours that enable insects to undertake long-distance migrations, and highlights the remarkable abilities of these migrants. Some moths and butterflies avoid cold winters in the UK by migrating south in autumn to overwinter in the Mediterranean Basin; there is a northward migration in spring. The study showed that these insect migrants have a compass sense that enables them to select winds which will take them in their chosen direction, and by flying at the heights where the winds are fastest they can travel at speeds of up to 100 km per hour. The migrants also make subtle adjustments to their headings so that they partially correct for wind-induced drift away from their preferred direction of travel. The study used a Met Office computer model to demonstrate that the observed flight behaviours result in migrants travelling nearly twice as far, and closer to their preferred direction, than an insect just randomly drifting downwind.
NRI trainers, Jerry Cooper, Alan Cork and Hans Dobson, have successfully completed a series of well received IPM workshops for young researchers in three focus countries of the Association for Strengthening Capacity in Central and Eastern Africa (ASARECA). The training, funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) under its SCARDA project (Strengthening Capacity in Agricultural Research and Development in Africa) which is implemented by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). Around 100 researchers in Rwanda, Burundi and The Sudan participated in the 5 day IPM courses which were designed to develop capacity in Integrated Pest management (IPM) which is a sustainable way to reduce damage from pests, diseases and weeds. The intensive courses used a range of training approaches including interactive participatory sessions, break-outs, presentations and field visits to broaden participants' understanding and appreciation of the tactics that can be used in IPM and the potential benefits from implementation for farming communities and consumers. Follow the link to a presentation of participants at work during their field visits.
In a recent article published in the Journal of Virological Methods (Abarshi et al., 2010, doi:10.1016/j.jviromet.2009.10.023), researchers from NRI have described the most cost-effective and highly reliable diagnostic protocols for detection of Cassava brown streak virus (CBSV) disease.
Cassava brown streak disease used to be confined mainly to coastal areas of eastern and southern Africa, but in the past few years it has become substantially more virulent and begun spreading across the continent. The disease has invaded Uganda, moved around the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya and Tanzania, and now entered DR Congo from where it seems poised to move right across sub-Saharan Africa. It is highly damaging, causing up to 70% loss in root weight of infected plants and rotting of tubers, and thus severely affecting root quality (see picture below) for both domestic use and marketing. The disease is a real threat to the livelihoods of the millions of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Report of a UK Parliamentary Inquiry into Global Food Security has been published and presented to the UK Parliament on 27 January 2010. Discussants at the launch event, in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Room, included Olivier De Schutter (UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food) and Geoff Tansey (Joseph Rowntree Visionary and Author). The Report brings together – and draws critical conclusions from – the key issues in oral and written evidence presented to the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Agriculture and Food for Development during the Inquiry. The Report was published for the APPG by the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, and financial support for the Inquiry was provided by Action Aid, CAZS-NR Bangor University, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide UK, Farm Africa, Find your Feet, International Agri-Technology Centre, John Innes Centre, Natural Resources Institute at University of Greenwich, Rothamsted Research and the UK Food Group. The Inquiry received some 130 written submissions and took oral evidence directly from 29 of the most experienced and authoritative experts on agricultural development and food security from the UK, developing countries and international organizations.