NRCRI commissions seeds rapid multiplication laboratory
The National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State, has formally commissioned a multi million naira Autotrophic Hydroponic System (SAH) Seed Multiplication Laboratory, funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), under the Building Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS) Project.
The commissioning formed part of activities organised by the Institute to honour its retired Executive Directive, Dr. Julius Okonkwo.
According to the NRCRI Assistant Director in charge of Biotechnology programme, Dr. Joseph Onyeka, “SAH, which was developed in Argentina and adopted by NRCRI and other partners, is meant to enhance rapid multiplication of Cassava under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded BASICS project.
According to him, SAH is a cost effective technology for rapid micro propagation method suitable for quick multiplication of clonal propagated crops such as Cassava that will enable NRCRI deliver improved varieties of crops to farmers at a faster rate than the previously used propagation methods.
“SAH technology is similar to in-vitro tissue culture method of plant propagation without the challenges associated with tissue culture such as low growth rate, low multiplication ratio, and slow rate of adapting to the environment due to transplanting stress.”
The institute’s Director of Biotechnology, Prof Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi, who chaired the event, said Okonkwo, an Agronomist, who was employed in 1977, made history in the institute by being its first staff employed as Pupil Research Officer and after many years of working at the NRCRI out-stations, returned to the head office and worked for some years before his appointment as the Chief Executive Officer.
Okonkwo served the Institute for about forty years altogether.
Okonkwo, according to the workers, created a sustained enabling environment for the Institute to execute its statutory mandate effectively, adding that’s “his tenure as Executive Director witnessed increased collaboration between NRCRI and International partners, which resulted in increased number of externally funded projects and saw the participation of staff in international trainings and conferences, among others.