July 26, 2017

New research tackles global food shortages with new government funding

© University of ReadingHelping North Africa become self-sufficient for protein needs, and reusing by-products of cocoa production in South East Asia are just some of the research projects that have received Government funding to tackle global challenges.

The work to address food sustainability, being investigated across departments including Food and Nutritional Sciences and Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading, has received almost £1m of grant funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The funding is provided by the UK Government and distributed by Research Councils.

Welcoming the new funding, Professor Steve Mithen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, said: “The success we have achieved in funding through the Global Challenges Research Fund shows how the University of Reading is tackling some of the biggest issues facing our world.

“From feeding the world to tackling global health, our researchers are helping to make the world a better place for all.”

One of the projects that received £383,300 of funding is looking at using cocoa pod husks that are left over from production in Indonesia in other ways, including producing functional fibrous materials for use in bakery and confectionary products and biodegradable food packaging.

“This funding is important in allowing these great strides forward to be made, both for individual countries and the whole planet” – Dr Dimitris Charalampopoulos, University of Reading

Dr Dimitris Charalampopoulos, a food scientist from the University of Reading, said: “This is exciting research that will make cocoa production more sustainable and help improve economic conditions and farmers’ wellbeing in Indonesia. This funding is important in allowing these great strides forward to be made, both for individual countries and the whole planet.”

Research helping North Africa become self-sufficient for protein has also been funded with £573,116 from the Global Challenges Research Fund. The research tackles the devastating losses caused in North Africa by the parasitic weed broomrape, by developing faba bean varieties which are resistant to the parasite.

Prof Donal O’Sullivan, Professor in Crop Science said: “This new project represents a great opportunity to put our high-tech faba bean breeding toolkit into practice to breed faba bean varieties that are more nutritious and far less vulnerable to broomrape attack through a real partnership with leading Egyptian and Tunisian breeders.”

More than £10m has been awarded by GCRF so far this year to projects involving academics at the University of Reading, of which Reading has received just over £2.3m. Funded research projects include work to tackle agricultural drought in Africa, understand the protective role of language for global migration, and improving screening of psychiatric disorders in developing countries.

Article source: University of Reading

Image credit: University of Reading