Knowledge for a sustainable world

BSc (Hons), PhD
Dr John E Orchard
Director of Postgraduate Research Studies (NRI)


Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering & Science

+44 (0)1634 88 3741

2015 – present: Director of Postgraduate Research Studies
20102015: Director of Research and Enterprise
2001 – 2010: Group Leader of Enterprise, Trade and Food Management Group, Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich, United Kingdom.
1996 – 2001: Deputy Head of Food Systems Department and Head of Horticulture Group, NRI.
1996: Acting Head of Crop Utilisation Department, NRI.
1994 to April 1996: Head of Post-harvest Horticulture Group, NRI.
1991 to 1993: Head of Food and Processing Section, NRI.
1988-91: Overseas Development Administration, UK Government. Technical Co-operation Officer (Biochemist/Plant Physiologist), Kenya Tea Research Foundation. Investigating more efficient methods of tea manufacture in Estate and Smallholder factories, and yield and physiology of the tea bush under different environment.
1986-88: Senior Research Officer, Liverpool University. Contract research on physiological plant pathological problems of cacao for chocolate industry.
1980-85: Overseas Development Administration, UK Government.
Technical Co-operation Officer (Plant Physiologist) at the Agricultural Research Institute of Ecuador undertaking research in the yield reductions of cocoa due to drought and influence of irrigation.
1978-80: National Cacao Research Centre, Brazil, Experimental Officer, studying fruit growth and development.

I have an interest in the post-harvest management of beverage, cereal and horticulture crops, with a focus on research, advisory and training projects covering the supply chain with support to farmers, traders and support services. Considerable experience in research project formulation, administration, management and appraisal. NRI Currently supervising PhD students in the following research areas:

  • Structuring Client Voice in Microfinance Institutions in Kenya.
  • Evaluating the Impact of Climate Change on Post-Harvest Quality of Perishables.
  • Optimising the production of biofuels from algae.
  • Reasons for multiple loans in microfinance and their effect on the repayment performance.
  • Consumers' perception of food safety in the supply chain.

Yam Improvement for Income and Food Security (2012-16): Current role - Project leader.

This project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is located in Ghana and Nigeria, and aims over the next 5 years to (a) increase yam productivity (yield and net output) by 40% for 200,000 small-holder yam farmers (90% with less than 2 acres) in Ghana and Nigeria; and (b) deliver key global good research products that will contribute to the longer term vision of improving yam productivity and livelihoods of yam dependent farmers. The project will adopt a value chain approach and will build the capacity of farmers and farmers' organizations and their service providers (e.g. NARS, NGOs, input suppliers, etc.) to ensure that technical innovations as well as access to improved yam markets will sustainably benefit small-holder yam producers. This capacity strengthening of key service providers in national extension and advisory services and NGOs, and support to cascade training, will ensure that not only significant numbers of beneficiaries are reached, but it will provide the opportunity for future sustainability and scalability. Gender and diversity analyses will be built into value chain and scoping studies to ensure that project activities are designed to specifically benefit women and small-scale farmers groups.

Strengthening Capacity for Agricultural Research and Development in Africa (SCARDA) (2008-12).

Team member of DFID-funded project to build the capacity of senior managers in developing country research organisations and universities in East Africa in order to improve their management and policy development skills. Main role to conduct participatory institutional analyses of national agricultural research organisations and universities to determine capacity strengthening needs and to develop capacity building programmes. This included the development of training material and methods to support capacity building which has include the development of change management programmes and action plans strengthening the capacity of research and teaching staff at all levels.

Contrasting Value Chains: A Benchmarking Study of Rice in Ghana, Senegal and Thailand (2012).

Team member of a World Bank-funded project to understand the cost structures in the national rice industries in individual countries against the overseas suppliers in order to indicate where improvements can be focused to achieve efficiencies and savings in the African supply chain. The research entailed a survey of rice in Senegal and Ghana to benchmark the value chains against a key supplier, Thailand. The study was based on a review of existing surveys and literature together with a selective sample of interviews in the main production centres, supplemented with further data from government agencies, donor partners and key players as well as some questionnaire surveys.

As Director of Research and Enterprise, the main responsibility is to take a central role in providing leadership to facilitate the growth and support of the strongest possible suite of research programmes to underpin the Institute's research and enterprise activities. This includes: support to NRI research group leaders to develop strong sustainable research programmes support staff in making high quality, properly costed bids to external funding agencies; mentor and support less experienced colleagues as they develop their research and enterprise activities; oversee MPhil/PhD student portfolio to ensure increased contribution of post-graduate research; interact with research students and staff to ensure their environment is appropriate so that they may be effectively supervised and mentored by research staff.
  • Member of Tropical Association of Agriculture
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