IITA Senior Scientist, and the newly appointed Executive Director of the National Root Crop Research Institute (NRCRI), Prof. Chiedozie Egesi, says plans are underway to ensure farmers get more nutritious and resilient crops of the RTB varieties through a proposal for the new OneCGIAR-led crop breeding project.
Egesi, who also doubles as NexGen Cassava Breeding project lead, says the project is built from existing investments, including the AfricaYam project, NexGen Cassava Breeding project, Breeding for Better Banana, and SweetGains in collaboration with Excellence in Breeding to grow better products. “These projects will leverage cross-cutting competencies and abilities to develop better crop varieties easier for farmers to adopt.”
The RTB Crops Breeding project includes sweet potato, yam, banana, and cassava.
He also mentioned that the NexGen Cassava Breeding project consolidates its gains as it transits into the OneCGIAR Crop Breeding Project after 10 years of existence.
Egesi highlighted some of the project’s achievements. They include five released varieties in Nigeria, working with the BASICS project to organize a product launch for farmers across Nigeria; leveraging TRICOT technology for on-farm evaluation and adoption by partner countries, training and engaging over thirty PhD students as Breeders across Africa, and about to release three new varieties in East Africa. “We are making efforts to ensure that all the populations and genomic predictions are put into good use and scaled out to partners for models that work,” he added.
Also, on his new appointment as Executive Director, NRCRI, Umudike, Egesi assures that as an IITA scientist for over 25 years, it is an opportunity to represent the values of IITA and establish better engagement and partnerships between OneCGIAR and the National Agricultural Research Systems, NARS.
“Over the years, I have watched NRCRI go high and come low; it was part of my motivation and interest to take office and improve things by upgrading facilities and skills and motivating workers. It does matter how passionate you are about your job; you cannot achieve your goals without a motivated workforce,” he said.
Contributed by Dajie Odok