Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: BT Will Address Cases of Irresistibility of Local Crops to Diseases - NRCRI

Sokoto — As Nigerian Cassava goes to international market, mass production to meet up with both local and international demands has become imperative, National Roots Crops Research Institute, NRCRI has stressed.

Assistant Director in charge of Media and Publicity, Dr. Kenneth Ekwe told a group of Media Fellows of Biosciences for Farming in Africa, B4FA who visited the Institute on Thursday.

According to him, "The need for improved variety that could guarantee improved production potentials is important and that is where Agricultural Biotechnology comes in," he said adding, "BT will address cases of irresistibility of local crops to diseases."

He explained that with the use of research support services, which include among others, Biotechnology, plant breeding and genetic resources, the National Roots Crops Research Institute, NRCRI has released a total number of 43 improved varieties of Cassava since its inception in 1923.

"From inception till date the Institute has released a total of 43 improved varieties of Cassava," adding that "these are resistant to Cassava Mosaic Disease, CMD."

He added that during the 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 seasons, NRCRI conducted the National Coordinated Research Project, NCRP on Cassava and over 40 new clones were evaluated along with three known checks (TMS 30572, TMS 4(2) 1425, TMS 82/00058).

"Over 400 improved genotypes in the multi-trait package of pest and disease resistance, high and stable yield and desirable agronomic and end users' characteristics, promise an expanded role in food, feed and industrial applications," Dr. Ekwe further assured.

In collaboration with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, IITA, he said, NRCRI also released the following Cassava varieties in two years: TMS 98/0510, TMS 98/0581, TMS 97/2205, TMS 98/0505, TME 92/0326, TMS 96/1632, TMS 98/0002, TMS 92/0057 and NR 87184 (Plates a-j).

These varieties have been found not only to "have multiple resistance/tolerance to CMD and other major problems of Cassava, which include bacterial blight disease, anthracnose, green mite and mealybug" but also "are high yielding, suitable for use as fodd and livestock feed and also as a raw material in industry."

Dr. Ekwe added that a total of 50 multilocational trials, MLTs (18 during the 2003/2004 and 32 during the 2004/2005 seasons were conducted across the different agroecologies of Nigeria.

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