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Natural Resources Institute

Volume 171: debated on Friday 27 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on progress made since 1988 by the Overseas Development Natural Resources Institute of the Overseas Development Administration.

(a) Relocation of the institute on to a single site at Chatham began in 1988 and will be completed shortly. The institute was formerly housed on eight widely scattered sites across southern England. Relocation has enabled the institute to move from ill-adapted buildings into facilities which will serve its needs well into the next century.

(b) Within the Overseas Development Administration, the institute became an executive agency on 1 April 1990. Its principal objectives are to maintain its international record and comparative advantage as a source of multidisciplinary, problem-solving expertise; to reflect in its programme the particular needs of the British aid programme; to undertake work for other donors; and to strengthen links with scientific institutions and universities in the United Kingdom and overseas.

(c) The institute's first corporate plan has been published, covering the three years 1989–90 to 1991–92. Copies are available in the Library of the House. The plan has been prepared as a response to the wider mandate of the unified institute, to the opportunities which arise from the move to Chatham and to the priorities of the ODA's renewable natural resources research strategy. The institute has reorganised its entire operational programme into three strategy areas which broadly correspond to stages of the agricultural production cycle—resource assessment and farming systems, integrated pest management and food science and crop utilisation.

The purpose of this restructuring is to improve coherence and effectiveness by planning and managing related activities together.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list in the Official Report all papers published and conferences attended in 1990 by staff of the Overseas Development Natural Resources Institute.

The Natural Resources Institute publishes about 200 hundred papers a year of which about 150 are in international journals. They cover work which promotes and sustains natural resource productivity through land use planning for agriculture, forestry and conservation, applied research into pest and disease control and developing the storage, processing and marketing of agricultural and forest products.All publications are listed in the institute's annual report, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.Institute staff have attended 93 conferences overseas and 127 in the United Kingdom during the past year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what training courses are undertaken by the Overseas Development Natural Resources Institute.

The institute runs formal specialist courses in the United Kingdom for overseas professionals on mycotoxins, the storage of durable agricultural products in the tropics, post-harvest technology of fruits, vegetables and root crops, food microbiology, analysis of soil and plant materials and analysis of pesticide residues. Also during 1989–90, 19 courses were held in developing countries. In addition, about 50 scientists from developing countries come to the institute each year for individual training attachments. Most of the institute's projects contain informal, on-the-job training components.