The development of a Biomass Energy Toolbox has been a key output from an 18-month study carried out for the EU's Asia Pro Eco Programme. The Toolbox contains a set of technical papers and information on the use of biomass for heat and electricity production. A CD version of the Toolbox has been produced and distributed. It is also available on the NRI website and can be viewed here. The focus of the study was on Sri Lanka and India, and the Toolbox is primarily intended for use in South Asia, but the technologies and approaches have considerable potential for wider application, especially in Africa and Latin America.
For humans living in warm climates, the high-pitched whine of a flying mosquito is associated with potential discomfort and disease. For the mosquitoes themselves – as new research by NRI entomologist Dr Gabriella Gibson and fellow scientist Professor Ian Russell of Sussex University has shown – the whine of their wing-beats plays a significant role in sex recognition and courtship. Gabriella and Ian have been studying the wing-beat frequencies and behaviour of tethered individuals of the large predatory mosquito Toxorhynchites brevipalpis, when flying alone or near another flying mosquito of the same species. Their results have recently been published in the journal Current Biology (volume 16, pp.1311-1316, 11 July 2006, abstract).
David Walker and Dr Rick Hodges of NRI's Food Management & Marketing Group have recently presented the developmental advantages of local or regional procurement of food aid to meetings at the Centre for European Policy Studies (Brussels) and at Chatham House (London). Their report was based on case studies in Uganda and Ethiopia, conducted under the European Community's Poverty Reduction Effectiveness Programme EC-PREP, funded by DFID.
NRI has prepared a report on the workshop it organized on 24 May 2006 during the 95th Session of the International Coffee Council. The Workshop, hosted by the International Coffee Organization (ICO) in London and funded by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC), addressed "The Potential for Diversification in Coffee Exporting Countries." The Workshop was part of the second phase of the ICO/CFC international project "Worldwide Comparative Analysis of Coffee-Growing Areas" for which NRI is the project executing agency. This phase of the project aims to identify the conditions for successful diversification, and to produce a tool (DECCA - Diversification of Enterprises in Coffee Countries and Areas) that can be used by policy makers to enable the design and implementation of operationally feasible programmes that: accelerate the process of diversification; remove constraints; and significantly improve the livelihoods of poor people.
An international workshop on rats and human health is being held in the Republic of South Africa on 4-5 May. Experts from around the world will be gathering at the Pestana Kruger Lodge in Malelane, Mpumalanga Province, to talk about the growing numbers of rodents and the diseases they carry. The workshop is being organized as part of a European-funded research project based in South Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe. For the past three years, the project's African and European scientists have been working together to study the impact of rodent-vectored diseases on people's health and livelihoods. The multidisciplinary team consists of ecologists, epidemiologists, anthropologists, economists and environmental scientists, who have been carrying out surveillance for the presence of diseases in rats as well as people, in an attempt to understand what puts people at risk of contracting diseases from rodents. The results of their work, and of other internationally renowned experts, will be presented at the workshop.
At a Seminar in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on 4-6 April 2006, subject packs for 17 new courses were handed over to staff of Tajikistan Agrarian University in the latest phase of an EC-funded Tempus Tacis project led by David Walker of NRI, with partners from the Netherlands (University of Larenstein) and Uzbekistan (Bukhara Technological Institute of Food and Light Industry, and the Bukhara Bank and Economics College), to develop and disseminate up-to-date and relevant curricula in the economics of agricultural commodities.
A series of training workshops will be held in India on 18-31 March as part of an NRI-led collaborative project, Telesupport, that aims to help Indian farmers to share best practice and receive advice through internet access at village information centres. The workshop topics include 'Documenting Good Practices', 'Web-based Information Management' and 'Video Production'.
The International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) has announced that its 14th Triennial Symposium will be held at the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, on 20-26 November 2006. The Symposium will be jointly organized by ISTRC with the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute and the Indian Society for Root Crops.
A new joint programme is addressing the barriers to, and opportunities for, participation of small-scale producers in international agrifood supply chains. This programme - "Small-Scale Producers and Standards in Agrifood Supply Chains", is a three-way partnership between IIED, NRI and DFID, and established its own website at www.agrifoodstandards.org in November 2005.
The latest newsletter issued by NRI's Agriculture, Health and Environment Group focuses on partnership approaches to research projects in Africa and Asia, with a short essay on the subject by Prof. George Rothschild and articles on five successful partnership projects, as well as news of PAHHG staff and associates, completed PhD studies, and a new short course on GM biosafety.