National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) is known as the foremost root crops research institute to be founded in Nigeria.
NRCRI undertakes research into how economically important root and tuber crops could be genetically improved. Such root crops are cassava, cocoyam, yam, ginger, sweet potato, Irish potato, sugar beets, radish, Hausa potato, and turmeric.
The institute began as an experimental farm established at Moor Plantation, Ibadan in 1923 by the Nigerian Department of Agriculture.
The regionalization of Government Departments in 1954 brought them under the Eastern Region Ministry of Agriculture.
Following the establishment of the School of Agriculture in 1955, the two establishments were combined as the Eastern Nigeria Agricultural Research and Training Station (ARTS) in 1956, with headquarters at Enugu. In
1972, the institution was granted federal status as the Federal Agricultural Research and Training Station (FARTS), and it was renamed the National Root Crops Research Institute in 1976, bringing it under the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria.
The Institute has its headquarters at Umudike, Abia State. It has outstations spread across the country’s geopolitical zones as follows: Plateau State, Benue State, Anambra State, Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa State, Kaduna State, Osun State, and Taraba State.
Functions of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI)
- The National Root Crops Research Institute is mandated to conduct research into such subjects as crop cultivation techniques, storage, processing, and utilization of the crops, concentrating on the requirements of farmers in the southeast zone of Nigeria.
- The institute trains middle-level agricultural workers to award National Diplomas and Higher National Diplomas and provide specialized vocational training to farmers.
- NRCRI, in addition to its mandate function, provides agricultural extension services in liaison with relevant federal and state agencies such as the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaisons Services (NAERLS) and the state’s agricultural development projects (ADPS) on its mandate crops within the mandate zone.
- Specifically, the institute also has the zonal mandate to research the entire farming systems of the South-East agro-ecological zone. The zone covers Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States of Nigeria.
- NRCRI additionally executes Agricultural Extension Services in liaison with relevant Federal and State Agencies such as National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaisons Services (NAERLS) and the States’ Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs on its mandate crops within the mandate zone.
Departments of The National Root Crops Research Institutes (NRCRI)
- Root and Tuber crops Research (RCR)
- Tuber Crops Research (TCR)
- Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (PME)
- Research Support Services (RSS)
- Farming System Research and Extension (FSRE)
- Biotechnology and Product Development (BPD)
- Information and Documentation (I&E)
Programs of the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI)
- Root Cops Research Department: Cassava, Sweet Potato, and Minor Root Crops (MRC) Programmes.
- Tuber Crops Research Department: Yam, Potato, Ginger, and Cocoyam Program.
- Biotechnology & Product Development: Biotechnology, Product Development, and Seed Technology Programmes.
- Farming System Research & Extension Department: Farming System
Research and Extension Programmes of The National Root Crops Research Institute
The Achievements of The National Root Crops Research Institute are as follows:
- The National Root Crops Research Institute, in partnership with the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, has contributed significantly to national food security and sufficiency through research and extension activities on root and tuber crops.
- The efforts of the institute have made Nigeria ranked first in the world production of cassava, yam, and cocoyam with total annual productions of over 60, 40, and 4 million metric tons for cassava, yam, and cocoyam, respectively.
- There has been an increase in the production of Irish Potato in Nigeria from 523,000 metric tons in 1975 to over 1 million metric tons. This is a result of an expansion in the cultivation capacity of Irish potatoes in Jos Plateau, Sokoto, Kadun, Kebbi, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Yobe, and Borno states where irrigation has been facilitated by NRCRI.
- Also, the Institute has developed techniques for the use of true potato seed (botanical seed) instead of traditional seed tubers for seed potato production.
- The institute has developed yam Minisett, mini-tubers, and Minisett dust which have the potential to end the age-long scarcity and high cost of seeds.