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Queens Anniversary Prizes 2015

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Professor Rick J Hodges

Visiting Professor of Grain Postharvest Management
Food and Markets Department
Natural Resources Institute


Professor Rick Hodges has worked for the Natural Resources Institute, and its predecessor organisations, for thirty five years. He is a specialist in the postharvest management of durable agricultural commodities and for six years was as a full-time commodity management advisor to grain marketing boards in West Africa (Mali) and South East Asia (Indonesia). In 1998, Rick was appointed Reader in Postharvest Entomology and since partial retirement in 2012 he has continued as Visiting Professor of Grain Postharvest Management, dividing his time between food postharvest issues in developing countries and, on a voluntary basis, wildlife conservation in the UK.

Rick Hodges has managed many research and development programmes to improve methods of grain preservation and pest control in the storage systems of subsistence farmers, traders and in large depots. He has authored around 100 scientific publications on grain storage and storage pest management and has been an author and editor of the NRI volumes on Crop Post-Harvest Science and Technology, published by Blackwell Science. He has an active interest in teaching and training at levels ranging from store keepers to students studying for higher degrees, and manages two masters courses 'Postharvest Technology and Economics' and 'Conservation Ecology'.

Rick Hodges advises the UN World Food Programme (WFP) on commodity quality and maintenance and for the World Bank in 2011 led a review of opportunities for grain postharvest loss reduction in Africa (the 'Missing Food' report). He recently addressed the 'UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development' on the opportunities provided by reducing cereal postharvest losses in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Key words: agriculture, postharvest, Sub-Saharan Africa, postharvest losses, grain storage, storage entomology, stock protection, grain quality

Research/Scholarly Interests

Rick Hodges research interests relate to the preservation of grain in developing countries, along the value chain from farmers to central warehousing. Initially taking a largely entomological approach to the problem of the larger grain borer (Prostephanus truncatus) in Sub-Saharan Africa in the 1980s and 1990s, his interests broadened into a variety of grain quality management options with reduced environmental impacts such as the use of synthetic semiochemicals to manage pest by modifying their behaviour, rationalisation of the use of contact insecticides, improvement in the timing and efficiency of phosphine fumigation, carbon dioxide fumigation in large silos cells, and sealed-stack storage. Since the 2006/2007 food crisis his interests have been focused on postharvest loss reduction as a resource efficient means of improving food availability. An important contribution to this has been the development of the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) together with approaches to loss assessment that integrate with APHLIS. For the future this development offers real potential as a significant element in a community of practice devoted to enhancing food security and the livelihoods of smallholder producers in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Current and Previous Funded Research Projects

Development of the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) (for European Commission, Joint Research Centre, 2009 - 2014)

Good estimates of postharvest cereal losses are important for agricultural policy development, informing food balance sheet calculations for the assessment of national food security, and for monitoring and evaluating loss reduction projects. The African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) was developed to deliver these services by the creation and integration of a network of local postharvest experts, a cereal postharvest losses information system and a losses calculator. APHLIS provides best estimates of the cumulative annual weight losses of cereal grains, by province, for the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The network is a contribution to recent international efforts to reduce postharvest losses, which is a resource efficient approach to improving food availability. For more details see the APHLIS website.

Development of a postharvest handling and storage training manual for the Purchase for Progress (P4P) project (for UN World Food Programme, 2011 - 2013)

The development of local food grain markets is potentially an important means of improving both national food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The World Food Programme's P4P project procures grain from smallholders to be used as food aid to refugees and in school feeding schemes. A key element in the process is the training of farmers groups to produce grain of the required quality and then to deliver it to, and maintain its quality at, the first collection point. A big boost has been given to this process by the development of a 'Training Manual for Improving Grain Postharvest Handling and Storage', in both English and French, for use by WFP training staff and their partners. The manual gives clear guidelines and instructions on how to retain grain quality throughout the supply chain. Although various scattered materials on aspects of PHHS at different scales were already available this is the first time that they had been combined and concentrated as one source of information in a manual of this kind. The PHHS training manual is also illustrated throughout with simple, clear cartoons that express some of the many basic messages. The manual gives recommendation on approaches to training as well as the technical details of how grain should be handled and stored to assure good quality. It is also accompanied by a CD holding a set of key presentations and facilitators' notes. The current version has been devised specifically for SSA. A loose-leaf folder style enables trainers in the different countries to customise the manual, with blank versions of the step-by-step visual training posters that can be easily converted to local languages, and to add in details of their specific standards and grain protectant recommendations.

Establishment of a Warehouse Receipts System in Uganda (for European Commission, 2006 – 2008)

Warehouse receipt systems are an important means of providing financial credit to farming groups. For many countries they also offer the first steps in the development of formal grain trading through the enforcement of grades and standards that result in higher payments for better quality produce. Warehouse licencing conditions were developed for a system of negotiable warehouse receipts to be implemented by the Uganda Commodity Exchange. The licencing conditions define the quality management system that is key to the success of warehouse receipts; careful adherence to the licencing conditions is vital if banks are to be confident in accepting gain deposits as collateral for loans. The system was backed up by the training of a Chief Warehouse Examiner and the development and implementation of a training course for warehouse staff.

Integrated Pest Management for Improved Food Security in Maize-Based Farming Systems: Strategies to Control the Larger Grain Borer (for UK Department of International Development, 1991-1994)

The Larger Grain Borer, Prostephanus truncatus (Coleoptera:Bostrichidae), is the most important storage pest of stored maize in Sub-Saharan Africa, and was introduced into the continent from Meso-America in the late 1970s. A pan-tropical project with bases in Mexico, Togo and Kenya was implemented to undertake basic research on the biology and control of the pest, taking advantage of its established status in Mexico to provide insights into its potential future status in Africa, especially the potential for biological control using the specific predator Teretrius nigrescens (Coleoptera: Histeridae). This project laid the foundation to many subsequent initiatives to manage the pest.

Selected Publications

External Recognition

  • Editorial board of the Journal of Stored Products Research
  • Secretary for the Group for Assistance on Systems Relating to Grain After Harvest (GASGA) and the Global Postharvest Forum (PhAction) (1994-2004)
  • Representing the UK Department for International Development on the EC's ERA-NET on Agricultural Research for Development (ARD) (2007-2010)

Contact Information

Professor Rick J Hodges

Natural Resources Institute

University of Greenwich

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

Tel: +44 (0)1634 883813

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


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