Knowledge for a sustainable world

The University of Greenwich has won a prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. This national award recognises outstanding achievement which also benefits the wider community.

The prize has been won by the university's Natural Resources Institute (NRI), whose Food Systems Department works with partners in the developing world on processing, conservation and marketing of food supplies. A distinguished panel of judges commended the university, saying that its work is of "international renown". Their citation states that the NRI's "practical projects together with its educational and training programmes have brought huge benefit, making a real difference to the lives of thousands of people".

The Head of Food Systems Department, Professor Chris Haines, says: "We have undertaken research, development and training to improve food security and food quality in developing countries for over four decades. We are thrilled to receive this higher education award only four years after transferring from a government department into the university sector."

The Queen will present a Gold Medal and an illuminated Prize Certificate to the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Rick Trainor and other staff at an honours ceremony at Buckingham Palace in February. The award was announced at a special reception for prizewinners at St James's Palace last night (November 16).

The winning project included innovative low-cost solutions to problems faced by hundreds of thousands of small farmers around the globe – from new uses for cassava flour in preparing local snack foods, to organic replacements for expensive pesticides. In Colombia, over 6,000 villagers have received "cascade" training, learning new ideas about protecting and marketing their harvests, and in East and West Africa, a natural predator has been introduced to prey on the larger grain borer, a damaging pest which can reduce more than a third of nutritious maize crops to dust.

Expert staff cover an unrivalled range of disciplines and skills – from entomology and horticulture to social sciences and food technology - and have a unique network of partnerships throughout the developing world, including government institutions, aid agencies, the private sector, and major players such as the Department for International Development (DFID), the World Health Organization and the World Bank.

Professor John Perfect, Director of NRI, says: "How will the growing global population feed itself in the future? That's one of the big issues for all the peoples of the world. The university is working to protect the delicate balance of the environment, so that the planet can continue to feed the generations to come. We're really delighted that this work has been honoured by the Queen."