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Edition 34 – April 2017
We’ve had a busy and exciting first quarter of the year here at NRI. Successes include coming up with the most promising solution to the Rockefeller Foundation’s Cassava Innovation Challenge, a winning video highlighting malaria prevention, new pioneering projects, grants, reports and publications in print and in the headlines. Our staff and student body continues to grow with new posts, studentships and programmes. We invite you to read more, study here, join our team, visit our website at and follow us on social media today…
The solution’s in the bag: NRI success in Rockefeller Foundation Cassava Innovation Challenge
Fresh cassava rots all too quickly, with roots beginning to deteriorate within 24–72 hours after harvest; this ‘short shelf life’ was the focus of the Cassava Innovation Challenge launched in 2016 by the Rockefeller Foundation, Dalberg, and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. NRI and partners from the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria, took on the challenge and came up with the most promising solution: the ‘NRIcassavabag’, a bag with a built-in curing technology that will keep cassava fresh for at least eight days after harvest.
World Malaria Day 2017: Double award for mosquito trap as new NRI-led project launched and video triumphs
25th April is World Malaria Day. It is fitting that this year’s theme highlights malaria prevention, as a team of researchers led by NRI begins testing a mosquito trap that exploits the very blood-seeking behaviour of mosquitoes that makes them such good carriers of disease. This pioneering trap is the subject of a new Medical Research Council grant, and was showcased in a short film which won the video segment of a contest run by the Swiss Malaria Group.
Wetlands mean LIFE: Greenwich scientists initiate pioneering project
Wetlands are some of the world’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, with distinctive soil, plants and animals. They can also increase social wellbeing for people by providing food, water, transport networks, accessible greenspace and play important roles in the environment. While new wetlands can bring many benefits, a potential side effect can be increasing habitats for biting insects such as mosquitoes. The University of Greenwich, including scientists from NRI, is leading a project called WetlandLIFE, which is investigating the cultural and economic values of English wetlands, with a particular focus on managing mosquitoes in wetland environments.
Fairtrade impacts on coffee farmers: NRI’s in-depth evaluation published
Decaf or full strength…medium-body or dark roast…blend or single origin? There is no shortage of choice when it comes to buying coffee. We can even choose how our coffee was grown or traded by buying products that are certified organic or ‘Fairtrade’. What impact does the Fairtrade system have on coffee farmers and farmer organisations? In 2013, Fairtrade International commissioned a study to find the answer to this question. NRI led the research for this study, carrying out fieldwork in four coffee-producing countries together with a team of international researchers. The findings of their in-depth evaluation were recently published by Fairtrade.
Spreading OPTIONs to farmers for natural pest control
For smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, severe insect damage, low yields and serious post-harvest loss are unfortunately all too common problems, made worse by inadequate access to pest control technologies. One alternative is the use of locally grown pesticidal plants, which offer effective control against insect pests, have less impact on beneficial insects, and are less costly than synthetic pesticides. An NRI-led project called OPTIONs aims to raise awareness about pesticidal plants and the advantages they have over synthetic pesticides.
Saving your greens from diamondback moth: smart pest management essential, warns NRI
Love your greens? So does the diamondback moth – especially brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower, and leafy salad greens – as many growers around the world know. The diamondback moth’s ability to breed rapidly and develop resistance to pesticides costs growers billions of dollars in control measures and lost produce each year. But it is not unbeatable. NRI experts advise growers that the time is right to get smart about pest management.
NRI radar detects trillions of ‘invisible’ insects migrating over UK
Huge numbers of insects – about 3.5 trillion each year – were recorded flying high over the southern UK using a special-purpose vertical-looking radar invented at NRI in the 1990s. This radar was the main technique used in a decade-long insect monitoring study which produced an overview of total numbers of insects and their ‘biomass’ of about 3,200 tonnes of insects per year. The analyses of this study, carried out by a multinational group of scientists, were published in Science.
Innovative NRI projects measure up tools for improved nutrition
Better nutrition for a growing population is a major challenge of our time. By improving standards for collecting and measuring data and developing innovative methodologies for evaluating agriculture and food systems, scientists will be able to build a robust evidence base which in turn will guide actions to improve nutrition. To that end, NRI has been awarded two ‘IMMANA’ research grants which are looking to develop innovative methodologies and tools for capturing and measuring data, leading to more effective interventions to improve nutrition.
African researchers show the world how to Stop Rats
Rats are everywhere. They cause damage in a multitude of ways, from destroying field crops, to eating and contaminating stored food, spreading serious diseases among people and animals and destroying infrastructure. Rodents can even cause house and farm fires by biting through electrical cables. NRI, together with research teams from six African countries, have been working on a project known as ‘StopRats’ which aims to significantly reduce the impact of rodents on people’s lives.
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The Resource #34: 28/04/2017

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