NRCRI Not Performing, Let FG Return Our Land - Eze Larry

* Eze Larry 

The National Root Crops Research Institute, NCRI described as the ''only Agricultural Research Institute east of the Niger among the 18 Agricultural research institutes spread across the country'' is under fire from its host community for performing below its core mandate.

''The NRCRI is performing poorly, it has failed to live up to its mission statement and vision'' Eze Larry Agwu told at his palace in Ajata-Na Igu, Oboro Ikwuano.

Popularly hailed as King Larry, the traditional ruler of  Ajata-Na Igu Autonomous Community in Ikwuano Local Government Area, Abia State, beyond venting his anger at what he described as the unpalatable State of affairs at the Institute further urged the Federal Government to review the state of affairs there.

''All we have heard from NCRI for years is one squabble or the other between the management and workers. We, as the community leaders have heard  stories of junior workers being victimised, casual workers used in the demonstration or practical farms being dismissed enmasse, others being owed one form of allowance or the other.

''All these incidents have gone from the State House of Assembly, to the National Assembly, but there does not appear to be any solution. The Executive Director ought to be called to order, or made to understand what NRCRI's mandate is.
''Our communities which contributed the over 20 hectares of land on which the Institute is situated  are rural, agricultural communities, and our major crop is cassava. Go to NRCRI, this farming season for cassava stems, they cannot provide for farmers. NRCRI cannot even provide tractors or any type of farming equipment for large scale farmers.

''As a farming community, we cannot even get extension services from NRCRI. Even the low income type of jobs that our people used to be employed for is no longer available. So what use is NRCRI to our community? They have taken our lands for research, we cannot enjoy the benefits of such research, we cannot get jobs, they provide no community social responsibility to our people. I need somebody to tell me what use NRCRI is to Ikwuano people in particular and to Nigerians generally

''If the NRCRI cannot do the needful, they should tell the authorities so that the FG can return the peoples land to  them, so at least they can do their farming and take care of their families. We are basically farmers here'' Eze Larry maintained

The NRCRI Umudike started on 1st of January 1923 on a 20 hectare land, as a provincial research farm, under the Nigeria Department of Agriculture with headquarters at Moor plantation Ibadan. Following regionalization in 1955 it came under the Eastern region Ministry of Agriculture, supervised by the Director of Agriculture Enugu. In the same year the School of Agriculture was established in the same location. It became known as the Eastern Nigerian Agricultural Station in 1956. Both the research station and the school were merged in 1965 and called Agricultural Research and Training Station (ARTS).

On 1st April, 1972 the Federal Government took over this station and renamed it Federal Agricultural Research and Training Station (FARTS).

The station was upgraded to a commodity Research Institute in 1975 by Decree No. 33 and renamed National Roots Crop Research Institute on 1st April 1975. The Institute came under the aegis of National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) by Decree No. 5 of January 1977. In 1980, it was transferred to the Ministry of Science and Technology. From 1986, the institute came under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development until 2006 when the Institute came under the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) and has maintained the unenviable record standing as the only Agricultural Research Institute east of Niger among the 18 Agricultural research institute spread across the country.

It also trains middle level manpower in agriculture leading to award of Ordinary National diploma/Higher National Diploma including vocational training farmers on specialized topics
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