Exciting research to address food insecurity faced by millions in Africa


The Natural Resources Institute (NRI) at the University of Greenwich has been awarded funding enabling it to undertake cutting-edge research into climate change, food waste and sustainable agriculture.

Photo credit: J de BruynThe Institute, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2019, has received an award in Research England's Expanding Excellence in England Fund for 2019–2022, which was announced today.

The £7.5 million award will allow the Institute to launch a Food and Nutrition Security Initiative (FaNSI) to expand its research capacity with a specific focus on addressing climate change, food loss and waste and food systems for nutrition.

Interim Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University, Professor Javier Bonet, said: "This is fantastic news and will enable NRI to build upon its award-winning research which has already helped to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

"At Greenwich, we are committed to excellent research that addresses real-world problems and benefit people and communities around the world. I'm delighted that NRI will be developing a unique, world-leading programme of work through an inter-disciplinary research centre capable of delivering research of the highest quality and impact."

Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: "Pushing the boundaries of knowledge and conquering new innovations are what our universities are known for the world over. This programme led by the University of Greenwich will consider how to improve food supply and nutrition in developing countries.

"The Expanding Excellence in England Fund will support projects throughout England to master new and developing areas of research and industry. Made possible through our record R&D spend delivered by our modern Industrial Strategy, the investment will support researchers to develop solutions and opportunities for UK researchers and businesses."

Director of the NRI, Andrew Westby, added: "This funding from Research England is transformational in terms of increasing NRI's capacity to contribute to food and nutrition security, especially in Africa. Working with our partners, we look forward to undertaking high-quality research, with outcomes that improve people's lives."

'Food and nutrition security' is about ensuring that people have enough safe and nutritious food. Today, approximately 800 million people worldwide are food insecure, and the food systems responsible for feeding a growing population are increasingly affected by a range of factors including climate change, conflict, and pests and diseases. New knowledge is required to ensure nutritious food for everyone whilst adapting to these and other global challenges.

NRI's work will include analysing plant growth in different conditions in a new Plant Ecology Lab plus a Food Innovation Lab for research on processing of food products, such as fortified food and innovations to extend shelf life.

There will be a particular focus on global challenges including climate change, conflict, and pests and diseases, which increasingly affect food security.

As a direct result of the funding, NRI is recruiting 20 new staff and funding 15 more PhD students.

It will also invest in the infrastructure at the Medway Campus, developing new laboratories and regenerating existing facilities.

For more information, see the NRI article.