Knowledge for a sustainable world

Andrew Westby

The Natural Resources Institute at the University of Greenwich has been shortlisted for a prestigious Times Higher Education Award.

The magazine has named Greenwich as a contender for the top prize in its category for International Collaboration of the Year.

The nomination was for the Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) project, which is led by the Natural Resources Institute and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The project has transformed the livelihoods of tens of thousands of smallholder farming families through a partnership with more than 200 organisations in Africa.

Cassava is a starchy root vegetable that is the staple diet for more than 400 million people in sub-Saharan Africa. The C:AVA project strengthened the capacity of national and local organisations and individuals to transform perishable cassava roots into a high quality flour that has multiple uses, including replacement of imported wheat flour or corn starch.

C:AVA is a collaboration between the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) and a wide range of organisations in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi. These include leading universities and research institutes, private sector companies, non-governmental organisations, financial institutions and government departments.

The initiative has so far supported over 90,000 farming families, 90 village processing groups and more than 50 enterprises, who last year contributed to the production of 24,000 tonnes of high quality flour.

Innovative research has led to improved efficiency of cassava processing and significant fuel savings.

An additional $11 million of research funding has been attracted by the C:AVA consortium from other sources to add value to the grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Professor Andrew Westby, Director of NRI and Leader of the C:AVA project, says: "C:AVA's success is built on long term, strong and dynamic partnerships between NRI and our partners in Africa. Together, we have developed a world-leading programme of research and innovation on root and tuber crops which is contributing to global food security."

Professor Tom Barnes, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research & Enterprise at Greenwich, adds: "The C:AVA project is an example of the excellent work that NRI is doing. A particular strength of this work is the translation of the Institute's collaborative research into impact on the lives of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa."

The university has won eight previous Times Higher Education awards and last year was the winner for Outstanding Contribution To Sustainable Development.

Greenwich's entry was picked from hundreds of other nominations for a Times Higher Award, which were submitted across 18 categories and covered a wide range of university activities. 

The full shortlist is published in today's (4 September) issue of Times Higher Education, and is also available on the awards website:

The winners will be announced on Thursday 27 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London.