Larry Murdock speaks after accepting his award from BIFADLarry Murdock spoke of the dire need to feed a hungry world when he accepted his award from BIFAD. (Photo by Mark Simons)

Murdock given award for PICS bags research

​By Keith Robinson - Published May 12, 2016

Larry Murdock, distinguished professor of entomology at Purdue University, was honored by the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development for the PICS bagging technology he created to help farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa protect their stored crops from grain-destroying weevils.

In his acceptance speech at a BIFAD meeting at Purdue in October, Murdock spoke of the need to make more food available to a rapidly growing world population. PICS, an acronym for Purdue Improved Crop Storage, enables smallholder farmers in Africa to safely store their crops.

The technology involves wrapping grain such as the staple cowpea, known in the United States as black-eyed pea, airtight in three plastic bags. The hermetically sealed bags kill the relatively small amount of crop-infesting weevils before they can quickly multiply by the hundreds, thousands and even millions and destroy or severely devalue the grain.

PICS also helps farmers become more profitable. Before PICS, farmers had to use pesticides and sell their grain very soon after harvest when prices are low and before the weevils could ruin their crop. With the bags, farmers can now store their pesticide-free grain longer for sale later in the year when prices are higher.