Dr. A.A. Adegbite
Nigerian’s impressive economic performance, sustained for more than a decade, has inspired optimism about the realization of Nigeria vision of a country free from hunger and extreme forms of poverty. The distribution of the benefits flowing from Nigerian’s resurgence has however not been equitable. The poor who happen to be concentrated in rural areas and depend on agriculture have been left behind. A further concern is therefore, about whether Nigeria will be able to sustain this level of growth over the long term.
These concerns are legitimate and merit careful attention. An essential response to addressing them lies in the transformation of the agriculture sector by substantially increasing its productivity, reforming the related institutions towards increasing competitiveness, especially of the private sector and by rebranding agriculture as a business rather than a way of life.
The Institute continued to leave no stone unturned in its reputation as a National Research Centre and a multi-commodity Research Institute. The Institute has both national and zonal mandates for some food/fibre crops and livestock viz:-
- National mandate for soil and water management for sustainable agricultural productivity.
- National mandate for kenaf and Jute Improvement in which research breakthroughs have been recorded in area of genetic improvement of kenaf, its production, processing and utilization.
- Zonal Mandates include (i) maize improvement (ii) legume Crops improvement, (iii) farming systems research and extension and (iv) livestock improvement for adaptability to Southern ecology. The institute is also the zonal coordinating Research Institute for Research-Extension-Farmers-Input-Linkage System (REFILS) in Southwest agro-ecological zone.
The Institute has 7 (seven) research programmes and 7 (seven) service units, all functioning according to the mandate assigned by the Federal Government. It has over 75 academic staff, hundreds of technical, administrative and supporting personnel.
The existing programmes/units have contributed immensely to the success of the Institute’s Research outputs.
- Land and Water Resources Management Programme: The programme is saddled with the responsibility to conduct and coordinate research for the development of improved soil management technologies in all agro-ecologies of the country. The programme is well equipped with professionals in various disciplines related to land and water resources management.
- Varietal development and field evaluation of newly developed crop varieties have remained key research focus of Kenaf and Jute Improvement, Grain Legume and Maize Improvement for Southern Ecology.
- The Trypanotolerant Livestock Improvement Programme embarked on improving the nutrition of Ruminants, poultry and micro livestock commonly reared in south western Nigeria.
- The Farming Systems Research and Extension Programme is saddled with the responsibility to evaluate and promote technologies that are ecologically adaptable socio-culturally acceptable and economically viable to millions of farming households in South West agro ecologies. The programme also coordinates the activities of ADPs in the zone (Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo and Lagos States). This is done to fulfill the mandate of the Institute as the zonal coordinating Research Institute of the South West Nigeria.
- The Product Development Programme, the topical research included evaluation of improved processing methods and utilization of some vital crops including under-utilized legumes.
- The Biotechnology Unit exploits the biochemical activities of living organism to shorten the time needed for varietal development.
- The Library and Documentation Unit and Information Technology Unit provided effective support to scientists in terms of scientific information retrieval and dissemination which has facilitated a broad based effective Information Communication Technology compliance of the Institute Research programmes.
- Agricultural Engineering and Environmental Unit, a unit created to bridge the observed gap in the need to increase agricultural and environmental engineering inputs into agricultural research in the Institute and along the value chain in Nigeria agricultural system.
- Crop Production Unit: The unit oversees Research and production activities in the headquarters as well as six strategically located out-stations in Ballah, Ile-Ife, Ikenne, Ilora, Kishi and Orin Ekiti.
- Public Relations Unit: This unit promotes and project an enviable image of the Institute at all times and coordinates its liaison activities for the fulfillment of the Institutes mandate.