NRCRI: Egesi marks one year in office, calls for Partnership to ensure food sufficiency in Nigeria

NRCRI: Egesi marks one year in office, calls for Partnership to ensure food sufficiency in Nigeria

The Executive Director of National Root Crops Research Institute, NRCRI, Umudike, Professor Chiedozie N. Egesi said his administration has played a leading role in attracting about ten new externally funded grants to the institute, a feat achieved within his six months in office.

Professor Egesi and CEO appointed the Executive Director in 2022 of the institute was flanked by his management team, disclosed this during a press conference to mark his one year in office, said the institute which started in 1923 as a provincial research station has passed through many transformations that made it one of foremost research institutes in the country.

He revealed that under his watch, the institute together with the management had recorded major research breakthroughs on the genetic improvement of root and tuber crops such as cassava, yam, potato, sweet potato, etc.

According to him, the institute had also carried out successful research into the entire farming system of the southeast agro ecological zone, which has improved the standard of living of the smallholder farmers.

He opined that they have released in a timely manner, funds for research scientists to conduct their experiments and research activities, while some old buildings were renovated for modern purposes.

His words, “in line with the mandate and mission of the institute, my management team and i have recorded major research breakthroughs on the genetic improvement of root and tuber crops such as cassava, yam, potato, sweet potato, etc. The Institute had also carried out successful research into the entire farming system of the Southeast agro ecological zone, which has improved the standard of living of the smallholder farmers. Together with our partners, we developed and released three new varieties of yam and four new varieties of potato that have excellent eating qualities, climate-resilient and very high in productivity for production by Farmers. The Potato Industry in Nigeria and West Africa are set for a major change as these varieties will lead to increased annual productivity of the crop in Nigeria”.

We have enjoyed a year of peaceful co-existence with our host communities and devoid of internal conflicts between the unions and the management. Right now, peace has fully been restored and the unions have been very supportive of the new management”

While identifying paucity of funds and resources to carry out technical and administrative work as part of their challenges, Professor Chiedozie Egesi listed some of their achievements to include a new biotechnology laboratory complex which is in progress outstations, Kuru Plateau State.
“The laboratory will soon be commissioned for genetic modification, diagnostics and molecular breeding”.

He maintained that”a new office block for the Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation department was built and commissioned in September. | In addition, a new biotechnology laboratory complex is in progress in one of the institute outstations, Kuru, Plateau state. The laboratory will soon be commissioned for genetic modification, diagnostics and molecular breeding. We also laid a foundation stone and design for a thousand capacity, multipurpose, ultramodern conference center that would stand as a reference point for hosting international conferences and make NCRCI the location of choice in Nigeria when it comes to agricultural research conferences and symposium.

“Other achievements include the: Provision of running water to the convenience rooms/toilets in the Offices. Timely provision of working materials (agro-inputs) and office stationeries. Successful completion of the 2023 Junior and Senior Staff Promotion exercise. Provision of new office furniture for staff. Timely release of monthly pay-slips. However, the year was not void of challenges. It was basically challenged by lack of adequate fund and resources to carry out technical and administrative work. Despite the paucity of funds, we were still pushing to ensure that NRCRI attains her peak in Nigerian economic revival”.

Professor Egesi noted that Abia is the host state and happy to partner with them, having seen the passion of the state governor to make rural roads motorable to evacuate farm produce. He stated that they need to reconstruct some of their buildings one hundred years after the institute was established.

Professor Egesi insisted that modern technology will encourage the youths to embrace agriculture and called on Shell Petroleum company and NDDC to support their engineering department, as well as set up modern laboratories, which he promised would be named after them.

The ED, NRCRI disclosed that the institute will be celebrating one hundred years anniversary between 7th to 9th November, 2023, of which many dignitaries would attend like the President, African Development Bank, Abia State Governor, Dr Alex Otti OFR, the Minister of Agriculture among others would attend.

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