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Queens Anniversary Prizes 2015

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Dr Rory J. Hillocks

Plant Pathologist & Nematologist
Natural Resources Institute


Dr Rory Hillocks as worked for NRI for 19 years following a period from 1990 – 1995 as a Senior Research Fellow at Reading University. After undergraduate years at Durham University and post-graduate study at the University of London, Wye College, his career began in Tanzania [1976] as a Technical Cooperation Officer with the then Overseas Development Administration, where for 5 years he was the Cotton Pathologist. On return to UK in 1981, Rory worked on a research project on nematode/fungal interactions on cotton, funded by ODA and registered this work for a PhD. On completion of my PhD the next post took Dr Hillocks back to Africa, again as a TCO with the ODA and Head of Pathology Department at the Cotton Research Institute in Zimbabwe. Returning from Zimbabwe in 1989, he was briefly employed by NRI [ODNRI as it then was] at Greys Inn Road in London, before moving to Reading University to work on an NRI extramural contract on soil-borne diseases in African smallholder farming systems. Research on smallholder agriculture in Africa continued after transferring to NRI at Chatham where he led a number of projects involving regular visits to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. Later an interest in the application of innovation system thinking to agricultural research, took Rory to Lesotho and Botswana as a member of a capacity-building project [SCARDA]. Long experience of smallholder agriculture in Africa has enabled Rory to lead one project on sesame, involving market-led approaches to agricultural research and development and to contribute to the C:AVA [Cassava: Adding Value for Africa] project in Malawi and Ghana. In 2011 he set-up the European Centre for IPM at NRI, intended as a platform to develop opportunities for NRI to extend its IPM know-how to European agriculture, in support of EU policies to decrease the use of conventional pesticides.

Dr Hillocks has undertaken numerous consultancies on aspects of crop protection and agricultural research for development and has been a regular member of the consultancy team that each year evaluates some of the CGIAR projects funded by the EC.

He has published more than 70 papers and articles and he has contributed to and edited 4 books on tropical crops [cotton, coffee, cassava and one on soil-borne diseases].

Research/Scholarly Interests

Dr Hillocks research interests divide into two broad categories:

  1. Research that contributes to making smallholder agriculture in Africa more profitable for producers and supports value-chain development.
  2. Research on integrated pest management in developing countries and in Europe, with an emphasis on adaptive research for sustainable intensification.
  • His research has contributed to the resolution of several problems in crop protection and added to the understanding of some important diseases such as cassava brown streak disease. His research and development work in Africa has helped to build the capacity of African scientists in agricultural research generally and more specifically in IPM and market-led research. He has supervised more than 10 PhDs and many of these students have gone on to senior positions in the agriculture ministries of their home countries.
  • Rory’s interest in market-led approaches to agricultural research for development continues through involvement in projects and through PhD supervision. He hopes in future to contribute to the wider adoption of IPM in UK and European agriculture and to become involved in evaluating the impact of GM crops, particularly Bt cotton, as this technology becomes scaled-out across Africa.

Current and Previous Funded Research Projects

Limiting the impact of Cassava Brown Streak Disease on smallholders, women and the cassava value chain (LimitCBSD)

CBSD has become the most important biotic factor limiting cassava improvement in East and Central Africa.

Aim of the research is to quantify the impact of CBSD on household food security and income and to apply some novel molecular techniques to selection for disease resistance.

Research to date has revealed that the damaging symptom of root necrosis associated with CBSD occurs much less frequently than expected after the initial epidemic phase of the disease. Farmers quickly identify local and improved varieties that show a form of disease tolerance in which leaf symptoms occur at high incidence but severe root symptoms are rare. The main impact of CBSD is in causing a great loos of cassava biodiversity as varieties that may be excellent in other respects, are discarded by farmers due t their propensity for severe CBSD root necrosis.

Linking the production and marketing chain for the development of smallholder agricultural commodities using sesame in Mozambique and Tanzania as a model

The need to improve market linkages for surplus farm produce rather than focus only on crop production.

The aim of the research was to improve the production and marketing of sesame using a value-chain approach

This was one of the first agricultural research projects in Sub-Saharan Africa to implement a market-led approach involving all the stakeholders in the sesame value chains in Tanzania and Mozambique which has led to a huge expansion in smallholder sesame production in southern Tanzania.

Selected Publications

  • HILLOCKS, R.J. and COOPER, J.E. (2012). Integrated Pest Management – can it contribute to sustainable food production in Europe with less reliance on conventional pesticides? Outlook on Agriculture 41, pp. 237-242.
  • Hillocks, R.J. (2012) Farming with fewer pesticides: EU pesticide review and resulting challenges for UK agriculture. Crop Protection, 31 (1). pp. 85-93. ISSN 0261-2194 (doi:10.1016/j.cropro.2011.08.008) Item not available online.
  • Hillocks, R.J. (2009) GM cotton for Africa. Outlook on Agriculture, 38 (4). pp. 311-316. ISSN 0030-7270 (doi:10.5367/000000009790422142) Item not available online.
  • Alicai, T., Omongo, C.A., Maruthi, M.N., Hillocks, Rory, Baguma, Y., Kawuki, R., Bua, A., Otim-Nape, G.W. and Colvin, John (2007) Re-emergence of Cassava Brown Streak Disease in Uganda. Plant Disease, 91 (1). pp. 24-29. ISSN 0191-2917 (doi:10.1094/PD-91-0024) Item not available online.
  • HILLOCKS, R. J. and KIBANI, T. (2002). Factors affecting the distribution and spread of fusarium wilt of cotton in Tanzania. Experimental Agriculture 38, pp. 13 – 27
  • BOOKS:
  • WALLER, J.M., BIGGER, M. and HILLOCKS, R.J. (eds.) (2007) Coffee Pests, Diseases and their Management. CABInternational, Wallingford, UK. 434 pp.
  • HILLOCKS. R.J., THRESH J. M. & BELLOTTI, A. (eds.) (2001) Cassava: Biology Production & Utilisation. CABInternational, Wallingford, UK. 332 pp.
  • HILLOCKS R.J. & WALLER J.M. (eds.) (1997). Soilborne Diseases of Tropical Crops. CAB International, Wallingford, UK. 452 pp.
  • HILLOCKS R. J. (ed) (1993) Cotton Diseases. CAB International Wallingford. 392 pp.

Recent Conference Presentations

  • HILLOCKS, R.J. IPM - can it deliver? Balancing environmental and economic Sustainability. Future IPM in Europe, Riva del Garda, Italy, 19-21 March 2013.

External Recognition

  • Member of the Tropical Agriculture Association

Contact Information

Dr Rory Hillocks

Natural Resources Institute

University of Greenwich

Central Avenue, Chatham Maritime, Kent ME4 4TB, United Kingdom.

Tel: +44 (0)1634 883303

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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