World Food Prize winner to deliver lecture on sustainable aquatic food

Picture of a lady with fish in a net

Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted has driven transformations in aquatic food systems to deliver improved nutrition and secure livelihoods for millions of poor people, especially women, across Asia and Africa - Credit: WorldFish

The 2021 World Food Prize winner, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, will deliver the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development’s second annual John Innes Foundation lecture at Norwich Research Park on Thursday, May 5. The World Food Prize is often referred to as the Nobel Prize for food and agriculture, and is the most prominent global award in this sector.  

Shakuntala is global lead for nutrition and public health at WorldFish, an internationally-recognised non-profit research organisation that promotes and supports the development of sustainable aquatic food systems. This includes aquaculture – farming seafood such as fish, shellfish and seaweed. 

World Food Prize winner, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted

World Food Prize winner, Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted will deliver the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development’s second annual John Innes Foundation lecture on May 5 - Credit: WorldFish

This year is the UN International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, so it’s fitting that Shakuntala’s lecture will highlight the potential for aquatic food systems to deliver environmentally-sustainable nutrition to global populations.  

For a long time, the planet has relied on the wild capture of fish, which has led to the worldwide depletion of stocks. Human population numbers are increasing, especially in Africa and South East Asia, so production capacity needs to double by 2050 to feed the world. One way of doing that is by farming seafood.  

Aquaculture can be practiced in freshwater with carp and tilapia and in seawater with salmon, oysters, scallops and mussels. Importantly, practices such as mussel and seaweed production have a very low environmental impact. Shifting to these more sustainable practices might offer populations with improved sources of nutritious food, while also protecting natural ecosystems.  

Scientists from the Earlham Institute, at Norwich Research Park, are already working with WorldFish on innovative aquaculture projects with tilapia fish in West Africa. 

Women sorting fish by a river

Farming seafood is one of the ways that production capacity can meet increasing world population numbers - Credit: WorldFish

During her visit to Norfolk, Shakuntala will be spending a few days travelling to areas of the Norfolk coast to meet local fishing community projects that have links with UEA and the Government’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), based in Lowestoft.  

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Prof Nitya Rao, director of the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development, said: “We are honoured to have Shakuntala as our key speaker at this event. She is world-renowned for her work driving transformations in aquatic food systems to deliver improved nutrition and secure livelihoods for millions of poor people, especially women, across Asia and Africa.  

“Aquaculture is sure to be an important pillar in future food sources so it is brilliant that we can lead the way by having Shakuntala sharing her ground-breaking work with us.” 

The event is open online to all. You can register at https://nisd.ac.uk/jif22 

A Pint of Science session

The Pint of Science festival returns to Norwich venues between May 9-11 - Credit: Pint of Science

Enjoy some of the latest science in Norfolk over a pint or two!

Scientists from Norwich Research Park will be presenting bite-size talks on their latest findings relating to the body and mind, technology and planet Earth as part of the ‘Pint of Science’ festival, being held at four Norwich venues between May 9-11.  

Sam Rowe from the Earlham Institute and coordinator for the Norwich events, said: “We’re really excited to bring Pint of Science back to Norwich this year. It’s an excellent opportunity for members of the public to connect with scientists at Norwich Research Park and to hear about the amazing research they are doing.  

“I hope it will give people a clear idea of how their world-leading science is being translated into real-world applications that will change lives.” 

The three-day festival will see events in over 25 countries and hundreds of cities around the world. In Norwich, there is a jam-packed programme of exciting talks including: 

“Our Body” - Maddermarket Theatre 

May 9 – Ageing and Living Longer - how do we improve our healthy life span?  

May 10 – Nutrition and Health - do we really know what food is unhealthy and what fads and diets are good for us? 

May 11 – Human Bugs and Treatments - how are nasty bugs developed and treated?  

“Tech me out” -  Café Bar Marzano at The Forum 

May 9 – Mechanisms of Evolution - learn about the incredible mechanisms that drive evolution. 

May 10 – Creating a Sustainable Future with Microbes - learn how scientists are using microbes to create fertiliser and environmentally-friendly dyes. 

May 11 – Gene Editing for the Future of Food - discover how technology is being used to improve crops.  

“Beautiful mind” - the William and Florence  

May 9 – Speak, Sleep, Repeat - the psychology of early language development and how important sleep is for our learning. 

May 10 – See it my Way? - cutting-edge psychology research about what information we share whether ‘written on our face’ or on social media.  

May 11 – Overcoming Challenges to the Brain - learn how we can ‘bounce back’ from early adversity and protect ourselves as we age. 

“Planet Earth” - The Dog House Bar 

May 9 – Pollinators, Plants & Pints - discover how plants can tell the time. 

May 10 – Wonderful World of Wheat – find out what we actually know about it the most widely grown commercial crop in the world. 

May 11 – Mighty Microbes - learn how microscopic organisms can be responsible for some of the deadliest diseases. 

Tickets can be booked at https://pintofscience.co.uk/events/norwich and you can follow events on Twitter at #Pint22.