An international conference on the development of sustainable energy resources is being organized as an integral part of an NRI-managed EU-funded project on the use of wood and agricultural waste for energy production in South-East Asia. The conference, entitled "Issues for the Sustainable Use of Biomass Resources for Energy", will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 15-17 August 2005, and will bring together project participants from Europe, Sri Lanka and India, plus contributors from elsewhere in South-East Asia.
A short article about rodent management in Africa and Asia written by Dr Steve Belmain, of NRI's Agriculture, Health and Environment Group, has been judged the winning entry in the booklet "Did You Know...?" published by NR International. The publication features 17 international development projects funded by DFID and the European Commission. Steve's article was chosen as the most entertaining, interesting and informative by a team of young students from Rochester Grammar School in Kent, UK, and he has decided to donate his prize of £250 to the agricultural research charity, Farm Africa.
A new guide for livestock professionals, written by NRI author Czech Conroy, has earned plaudits from international agricultural development experts.
Development experts at NRI have welcomed the Report of the Commission for Africa published on 11 March 2005. The NRI team, which prepared a background paper on agricultural infrastructure for the Commission, argues that governments, donor agencies and development banks around the world should go even further to assist and support sustainable development programmes across the African continent.
Dr John Butterworth of NRI, Dr Barbara van Koppen of IWMI and Dr Ibrahim Juma of the Faculty of Law of the University of Dar es Salaam are co-organizing a 3-day International Workshop on African Water Laws, hosted by the South African Department of Water Affairs and Forestry at the Willow Park Conference Centre near Johannesburg during the last week of January. The key theme of the Workshop is the issue of plural legislative frameworks for rural water management. Whilst the Workshop's focus is on water legislation in sub-Saharan Africa, with keynote presentations from Eastern and Southern Africa, other international contributors will bring experiences and perspectives from elsewhere, especially from South Asia and South America.
The second volume of a major three-part reference work edited by NRI's post-harvest specialists has recently been published by Blackwell Publishing. Post-harvest activities (food storage, processing and marketing) are the backbone of the agricultural economies of most developing countries, and offer huge potential to improve the livelihoods of poor people in rural and peri-urban communities, as well as being crucial to food security and nutrition. However, authoritative information on post-harvest principles, problems and best practice, especially relating to developing countries, is very difficult to find. To fill this knowledge gap, an editorial team from NRI has been working with Blackwell Publishing to produce a three-volume landmark series on post-harvest technology and management, with a strong emphasis on the developing world. Each volume draws on a wide range of internationally-respected authors from NRI and other institutions working on post-harvest issues.
Research by scientists from NRI and East Malling Research (EMR) has been honoured by an Environmental Award given by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, sponsored by Waitrose. Their work on the chemical structure of the pheromone of the apple leaf midge won the prestigious prize in the Research and Development category of the Awards for 2004. The prize - consisting of a cheque for £2000, an engraved glass rose bowl and a certificate - was presented to Prof. David Hall of NRI and Jerry Cross of EMR by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Robert Finch, at the Mansion House on Friday 22 October.
The process of decentralization in many developing countries is facing new and challenging demands. Municipal and local governments are being given increased responsibility to develop strategies that will: (i) secure jobs; and (ii) revitalize local and regional economies. These strategies are necessary to support an increased emphasis on sustainable growth and employment at local and regional levels, in the context of targets for poverty reduction and economic growth set both by developing countries' governments and by international development agencies.
There is an urgent need for methods for the detection of hazardous compounds in foods and drugs that do not involve the use of animals.
The commercial partnership between the University of Greenwich and the Kent-based innovative SME Crown Bio Systems (CBS), that successfully developed the Safe Soil Tester, is now addressing this need by developing a novel bioassay (a biological assay) composed of specially constructed strains of selected micro-organisms.
Yam (Dioscorea species) has its centre of origin in West Africa where 90% of world production currently occurs. In West Africa yam is steeped in cultural history and revered as a cultural symbol of fertility, for example it is an essential element of marriages in many cultures. However, due to declining land availability, reduced fallow systems, and pests and diseases, yam yields are decreasing. This production decline is also attributed to poor quality and availability of seed yam (which are small pieces of yam used to grow full size yams). Work currently underway, has highlighted the extreme nature of the problem in some areas, with a scarcity of seed material and devastating levels of disease infestation on available seed material. Some of the most highly prized varieties also appear to be amongst those in shortest supply and most diseased and therefore most at risk of possible permanent loss. Intervention to prevent such losses of important germplasm is required. Research currently being carried out by the Diocesan Development Service, the Natural Resources Institute and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, is aimed at developing a system for the promotion of healthy seed yam and consequently the conservation of important germplasm, improving yam production and conserving the environment. Improved yields require less land and therefore reduce the need for forest and bush fallow clearance, which is necessary for the nutrient demanding yams.
Project R8278: Evaluation and promotion of crop protection practices for 'clean' seed yam production systems in central Nigeria
Project leader: Lawrence Kenyon, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich