Professor John Porter, internationally renowned scientist in crop ecology and physiology, biological modelling and agricultural ecology, has been made a Knight of the Order of Agricultural Merit – France’s highest accolade in the area of agriculture – which is given to people who have made exceptional contributions to agriculture via theory, innovation or practice. The Ordre du Mérite Agricole was started in 1883, in recognition of the importance of agriculture to the French people and economy – an importance that continues to this day – and was considered the second highest French honour after the Légion d’Honneur.
Biopesticides – substances used for controlling pests made from natural products or micro-organisms – are environmentally friendly, biodegradable, and can be cheaper and more effective than chemical pesticides. They’re also big business, with the biopesticide market predicted to exceed USD 6 billion by 2020. Growth in this sector is reflected in the growing popularity of the free Greenwich Biopesticide Event, now in its fourth year, which brings together members of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and biopesticide technology community to share opinions, challenges and opportunities.
For 25 years, NRI has been working to improve the cassava value chain, along its journey from farm to fork. Now that journey is taking NRI and cassava to Buckingham Palace – the official residence of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II – for the presentation of the Queen's Anniversary Prize awarded to the University of Greenwich for NRI's cassava work.
Dr Corinne Alexander was a well-known and well-respected agricultural economist and grain marketing extension specialist at Purdue University, Indiana, USA. NRI staff who knew Corinne were shocked to hear of her sudden death in January 2016, and deeply saddened to lose such a valued collaborator and friend.
Aedes aegypti is the name of the mosquito species behind the headlines on the current Zika virus outbreak in the Americas. This species of mosquito is also responsible for transmitting dengue, the world's fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease, and other deadly diseases such as yellow fever and chikungunya. NRI researchers are set to embark on a three-year project to understand more about this mosquito species, and to ultimately develop solutions to control their spread.
Professor Anthony Youdeowei, NRI's Visiting Professor of Capacity Strengthening in Agricultural Research for Development, has been awarded 2015's International Plant Protection Award of Distinction by the International Association for the Plant Protection Sciences (IAPPS), for major contributions to the promotion of global plant protection. IAPPS, formally established in the late 1990s, aims to promote the application of an integrated approach to research and the application of the plant protection sciences.
Professor George Rothschild, Emeritus Professor of International Agriculture at NRI, was recently named Development Agriculturist of the Year in the 2015 Honours of the Tropical Agriculture Association (TAA).
New research for the UN on empowering dryland women: capturing opportunities in land rights, governance and resilience
Findings from research recently conducted by NRI reveal the importance of supporting women's empowerment in dryland regions. Drylands are highly diverse, encompassing vast geographical areas. In general they are characterised by environmental conditions of low and variable rainfall and water availability, and by a mixture of agriculture- and livestock-based systems. These conditions mean that drylands people often have unique relationships to land and practice adaptive strategies that respond to the seasonal, climatic and environmental change of drylands.
NRI recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with The Nelson Mandela Africa Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) which is based in Arusha, Tanzania. The agreement is a reflection of the close collaboration that has developed between the two organisations in the fields of agroecological research and pesticidal plants – plants with properties that control pests.
Research led by NRI scientists shows that extracts of plants with pesticidal properties effectively control insect pests while facilitating ecosystem services, plus they are less costly than synthetic pesticides. The research, published recently in open-access journal PLOS ONE, is good news for the smallholder farmers of sub-Saharan Africa, who are largely 'organic' farmers – by default rather than by choice – as their access to pest control and other resources is limited. Consequently, their crops suffer from severe insect damage, and their yields remain low.