5 new research professor vacancies, 'Fragrances in Namibia', a feature piece from our Director of Capacity Strengthening and Learning, and other news from NRI in our monthly update...
Dear friends,
Welcome to the first edition of The Resource, giving you the highlights of recent activities at the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich. To receive immediate news, and to join us in discussion, you can follow us on facebook or twitter.

May 2012

Strengthening capacity for agricultural research in Africa (SCARDA)

Women shelling maize at SCARDA workshopAs the SCARDA project draws to a close, Tim Chancellor tells us what it has achieved. In recent years there has been a growing consensus among developing country governments and international donors of a need to increase investments in agricultural research. Research plays a crucial role in stimulating growth in the agricultural sector and this makes a vital contribution to economic development and poverty reduction. SCARDA developed and tested an approach to capacity strengthening that enables national research and education organisations to identify and address their priority capacity needs in order to improve their performance. Our Director of Capacity Strengthening and Learning, Tim Chancellor, gives an account of the project.

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Boost for research at NRI: new research professors and PhD studentships

Significant new investment is being made in research at the Natural Resources Institute. The Vice Chancellor has set a new course for the future with research and enterprise central to all that we do at the university. As a result 5 new research professors are to be appointed to NRI in the following areas: Agriculture and Climate Change, Food and Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Policy, Sustainable Agriculture, and Environmental Economics (Climate Change). At least 5 fully-funded PhD studentships will also be announced shortly. Those newly appointed will join a research institute that has been working with its partners for over a century, at the forefront of international efforts, to harness agriculture and renewable natural resources to increase food availability and raise the incomes of poor people.

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Fragrances from Namibia, and the story of Veerii Tjivinda

Working with the Ovahimba people, a fledgling essential oil industry is being developed from indigenous plant resin. Tucked away in the northwest corner of Namibia is the Kunene Region, where a resin from 'Omumbiri' is sustainably harvested and traded by the Ovahimba communities. NRI is supporting the establishment of a fledgling essential oil industry with an Innovation Fund Grant won in early 2012 from the US Government Millennium Challenge Corporation. The grant will help NRI identify a pipeline of products from plants like Omumbiri to assist the Ovahimba people to generate an income.

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New study published to improve food safety around the world 

SPS coordination mechanisms. Food safety is a growing public health problem, and institutions across the world are required to work together to ensure that animal health, plant health and food safety regulations are duly applied. A new study 'National SPS Coordination Mechanisms: An African Perspective' will support private and public stakeholders in developing countries to implement Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards in accordance with the Agreement on the Application of SPS Measures, an international treaty of the World Trade Organisation.

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Whitefly feeding on a cassava leaf

Gates Foundation Grand Challenges grant

Dr Maruthi M N Gowda has been awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Exploration grant to pursue an innovative global health and development research project investigating if a certain bacteria (Wolbachia) can be the basis of a strategy employed to control agricultural pests like whitefly.

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Dr Mohammed Ibrahim

PhD student wins prize

Dr Ibrahim Mohammed, a PhD student from Nigeria studying at NRI, was awarded the Raymond/Roger Hull prize for best poster presentation at the International Plant Virus Symposium of the Association of Applied Biology.

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Darwin Initiative coffee project

Darwin Initiative supports new coffee project

New project to help coffee farmers conserve biodiversity in Guatemala. NRI and partners have been successful in gaining funding from the Defra-led 'Darwin Initiative' for a new 3 year project named Agroforests: A Critical Resource for Sustaining Megadiversity in Guatemala. 

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Event: Professor John Colvin will present his inaugural professorial lecture on 'Insects, Plants and Viruses: Dynamic Interactions in a Changing World' at the Medway Campus on Thursday May 31st at 6pm. Read more for event details and booking instructions.

Job opportunities at NRI: 
  • Five professorial vacancies: Food and Nutrition, Food and Agriculture Policy, Agriculture and Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture, and Environmental Economics. See
  • NRI will soon be recruiting a Grain Postharvest Specialist, details will available on our website shortly.

Latest publications from NRI:

Abarshi, M.M., Mohammed, I.U., Jeremiah, S.C., Legg, J.P., Kumar, P., Lava, Hillocks, R.J., and Maruthi, M.N. (2012). Multiplex RT-PCR assays for the simultaneous detection of both RNA and DNA viruses infecting cassava and the common occurrence of mixed infections by two cassava brown streak viruses in East Africa. Journal of Virological Methods, 179 (1). pp. 176-184. ISSN 0166-0934

Auty, H.K., Picozzi, K., Malele, I., Torr, S.J., Cleaveland, S., and Welburn, S. (2012). Using molecular data for epidemiological inference: assessing the prevalence of Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense in Tsetse in Serengeti, Tanzania. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, (1). e1501. ISSN 1935-2735 (online)

Cheke, R.A., McWilliam, A.N., Mbereki, C., van der Walt, E., Mtobesya, B., Magoma, R.N., Young, S., and Eberly J.P. (2012). Effects of the organophosphate fenthion for control of the red-billed quelea Quelea quelea on cholinesterase and haemoglobin concentrations in the blood of target and non-target birds. Ecotoxicology. ISSN 0963-9292 (print), 1573-3017 (online) (in press).

Read more for a full list of our latest publications.

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The Resource #1: 21/05/2012

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