Science - May 1, 2013

NWO funds food security research

Wotro programme gets new lease of life.
Researchers are required to collaborate with NGOs and companies.

Together with the ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Dutch national research council NWO is going to fund research in the field of food security. In the Food and Business Global Challenges programme, scientists, companies and civil society organizations can work together to increase food security in developing countries. Funding to the tune of 3.5 million euros is available this year, and this will rise to 26 million over the next few years.
Foreign Affairs plans to establish five knowledge platforms for the spearheads of its development policy. Besides food security, these are water, women's rights, security and economic growth. The food programme is the first to be up and running. The programme is of interest to Wageningen researchers who have done research on development-related issues through the NWO department Wotro. Government budget cuts brought the Wotro programme to a standstill for a while, but it gets a new lease of life now through the renewed collaboration with the ministry.
It was already a condition for funding for the Wotro programme that researchers and civil society organizations should collaborate intensively, says Domien Huijbregts of NWO. In the new setup both these parties are also required to work with the business world. The knowledge platform for food security at the ministry will be linked with the Agri&Food and Horticulture & Propagation Materials top sectors, in which researchers are already working with businesses. 'This role for the business world is new for us,' says Huijbregts. 'The idea is that it will enable us to build a strong bridge between scientific research and the application of the research results.'

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