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July 20, 2024

NRCRI, TCGRI – CATAS Collaborate to Catalyse Agricultural Productivity in Nigeria

The National Root Crops Research Institute Umudike and the Tropical Crops Genetic Resources Institute of the China Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences (TCGRI-CATAS China) have partnered to leverage technological advancements and foster collaborative research between China and Nigeria to significantly catalyse solutions to enhance agricultural productivity and sustainability in Nigeria.

The development was revealed by the Executive Director / Chief Executive Officer of NRCRI, Prof Chiedozie Egesi during a 3-day strategic meeting held at the NRCRI on the 1- 3 of July, 2024.

In his welcome remark, the Chief Host, Professor Egesi expressed his excitement to have the visiting scientists, Prof Ou Wen and Dr Gao Fei. He emphasized that there was already a Memorandum of understanding (MOU) in existence between the 2 research institutes since 2008 and hoped that with the meeting, a new chapter would be turned as it will give structure towards establishing a Nigeria – China Cassava Demonstration base for the improvement of Cassava Value Chain in Nigeria under a South-south Cooperation between Nigeria and China.

According to the ED, this collaboration, which has the support of the Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) of the United Nations Organizations (UNO) would change the narrative by presenting many opportunities for Nigeria.

“This meeting is very important as leveraging the partnership will bolster the technological advancements for Nigerians. It will help to jump-start our agricultural production to leapfrog and look like what is obtainable in other nations that have attained food security status.  We have lessons to learn from this collaboration with regards to agricultural mechanization: for us to move away from manual production of cassava, open up the markets for Nigerian farmers for export and a situation where our scientists would exchange visits with the Chinese”

“The mechanization of production of cassava is the major area I am keen on as this would reduce drudgery and breaking of the farmers’ backs. It would give room for a seamless form of cassava production”

The ED reiterated that Nigeria has a lot to learn from the Chinese collaboration as China is a net exporter of food to the world regardless of their population as against 40 years ago, when China was food insecure. We have a lot to learn from them in terms of Root and Tuber Crops. We are working with a group that is very much interested in these RTCs especially Cassava.

The representatives from the TCGRI-CATAS China in their presentation, provided an overview of cassava genetic resources and its utilization for breeding in CATAS. Prof Ou Wen said that the partnership will help in increasing Cassava Value Chain from manual to mechanized agriculture.

According to them, China has integrated and innovated right by simplifying Cassava technologies which they shared to some Cassava producing countries in Africa and Asia which is enhancing the competitiveness of the local Cassava industry

” Since 1982, CATAS has established a strong working relationship with International Center for Tropical Agriculture and achieved fruitful results in Cassava resource sharing technology transfer and personnel training”.

Among their recommendations were; transforming from subsistence to commercial production, building whole value chain of production, processing and marketing, improving farming regulations and product standards in higher level, increasing technical support from international center for tropical agriculture (CIAT), international institute of tropical agriculture (IITA), FAO and projects from International fund for agricultural development(IFAD), united nations development programme (UNDP) and World Bank.

Another was enhancing infrastructure construction, improving the breeding of Cassava and healthy Seedling propagation, upgrading current planting and processing technology, establishing Science and Technology innovation system and setting up technical extension and service system.

The meeting featured various presentations by top NRCRI Scientists/Researchers and Field inspection of the Sites for China Hainan- Nigeria Umudike Cassava Joint Laboratory and African Cassava Yield Doubling Programme Umudike Demonstration Base, Nigeria.

The NRCRI ED, consequently expressed optimism that having seen what the Chinees did in some African countries that impacted positively on better yields, higher returns to farmers in terms of planting and harvesting and moving away from manual to mechanization of Cassava, with that Nigeria can be on cutting-edge of the tools that are needed to work.

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