By Mohammed Baba Busu
Dr. Aliyu Umar, Executive Director, National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI), Badeggi, in Niger, said it had released two new rice varieties to Nigerian farmers.
Umar disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Badeggi on Monday
He said that this was part of the mandate of the Institute as part of efforts to bolster food security in the country.
The Executive Director said the new varieties are: TEGGOLD and 6444GOLD.
He said that each of the new varieties could give a yield of 10 tonnes per hectare as against the 5-6 tonnes per hectare with the old varieties.
The NCRI boss said that the development was an improvement in the local varieties that were giving between 1.2 to 1.5 tonnes per hectare.
In the same vein, the Institute has released two new varieties of acha to the farmers across the nation.
They are : NCRIAH 1 and NCRIAH2.
Similarly, the Institute has released two new varieties of castor seeds to the farmers in the county.
They are: NCRICAS1 and NCRICAS2.
“These major research breakthroughs are expected to also boost the yields of the farmers and further boost food security,” the Executive Director said.
He disclosed that the institute is one of the 15 community research institutes in the country under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Umar said that they have been given the mandate to conduct research into the genetic improvement of some mandated crops.
“Each research institute in Nigeria has a mandate to conduct cost effective research for improved rice, sugarcane and beniseed,” he added.
Umar stated that another mandate crop for NCRI was acha, which is popularly called ”hungry rice.
”Castor seed was recently added to the institute, because of our output is stevia crop which is also a sweetener crop just like sugarcane.
”Since we came on board, our first breakthrough was the inauguration of the NCRI mouth piece in the form of a research journal.”
He explained that for the first time since the institute was established in the last three and half decades the NCRI had no single journal of its own
The Executive Director added that it was when he came on board that that he saw the need to establish the journal, which has it name as “Badeggi Journal Research and Environment”
According to him, the position of any research journal was the pride of any research institute, because it affords scientists a medium to communicate their research outputs to the outside world.
He disclosed that the journal, which has an international outlook, was a peer review journal that both scientists within and outside the country published their research works in.
Umar said it had succeeded in boosting the image of the institute to the whole world.
The NCRI boss said, ”with this journal that has been published regularly, the outside world now knows that there is an institute called NCRI.”
Umar added that since he assumed office, there has been an increase in the quantum and quality of research outputs.
By this, he said that the number of research activities carried out in every research season had increased beyond what it used to be.
“I remember in the past years the total number of research activities carried out used to be in the range of 50-60, but it has increased since we came on board to between 100-120 research activities per session.
”Technically before now, our breeding work before now was through hybridization and cross breeding, which normally take years before it functions.
”But under this new research impetus, we go in to the use of tissue culture and bio-technology which often give us results in fewer years than the previous times,” he said.
He however, commended the cooperation of the staff that had made the management to actualise this progress.
Umar solicited for more support to actualize that mandate of the institute in ensuring food security in the country.