The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at the weekend received commendation for funding the Autotrophic Hydroponic System (SAH) Seed Multiplication Laboratory for the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI) Umudike, Umuahia, Abia State, under the “Building Sustainable Integrated Seed System for Cassava in Nigeria (BASICS) Project”.
This commendation came from the Executive Director of the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Dr. Julius Okonkwo, while commissioning the laboratory as part of the activities the workers lined up at a send forth meeting in his honour after his forty years’ service in the institute which he started as a Pupil Research Officer in 1977.
He expressed his desire that the Foundation would continue to assist the centre in future.
Speaking during the occasion, Chairman of the send forth meeting and NRCRI Director of Biotechnology, Professor Ukpabi Joseph Ukpabi, said that Okonkwo, who is an agronomist, had during his tenure as the Executive Director of the institute, created a sustained enabling environment for the institute to execute its statutory mandate effectively.
“His tenure witnessed increased collaboration between NRCRI and International partners which resulted in an increased number of externally funded projects and saw the participation of staff in international trainings and conferences, among others,” Ukpabi said.
Also speaking, Assistant Director in-charge of Biotechnology programme at the NRCRI, Dr. Joseph Onyek, said “SAH, which stands for Autotrophic Hydroponic System, was developed in Argentina and adopted by NRCRI and other partners to enhance rapid multiplication of Cassava under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) funded BASICS project.
He said: “It is a cost effective technology for rapid micro propagation method suitable for quick multiplication of “clonally” propagated crops such as Cassava that will enable NRCRI deliver improved varieties of crops to farmers at a very faster rate than the previously used propagation methods.
And specifically enables cassava seed producers to increase exponentially, their seed production while lowering their overall cost and is about ten times faster than conventional tissue culture method and requires less than half of the cost of using tissue culture