Global Partnership Initiative for Plant Breeding Capacity Building (test)

Plant breeding programs in Nigeria

Nigeria is situated south of the Saharan in West Africa. Although it depends heavily on the oil industry for its revenues, agriculture accounts for 41% of the GDP and approximately 70% of the population is engaged in agricultural production at a subsistence level. A wide diversity of crops is grown in Nigeria in response to the ecological variability. Rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice, peanuts and millets are the main agricultural products.

Formal agricultural research in Nigeria started as far back as 1893 when the first botanical research station was established by the colonial government. Breeding activities began only in the 1970s. Today a lot of institutes (both public and private) and universities are involved in plant breeding and plant biotechnology.

Maize, sorghum, cowpea and groundnut are the major crops covered by Nigerian plant breeding activities. Generally, the main task is line evaluation in a highly favourable environment.

The Nigerian NARS system was historically one of the largest in Africa. Unfortunately, since the early eighties, it has been experiencing serious set-backs due to drastic reduction in funding, frequent changes in government policies, inability of the national research institutions to effectively focus limited resources on priority areas, and lack of mechanisms for effective collaboration among NARIs, universities, extension and private sector.

Research and education institutes with activities in plant breeding

Public Institutes


Institute for Agricultural Research of Northern Nigeria, Ahmadu Bello University
Website available in English

IAR is affiliated with the Faculty of Agriculture, Ahmadu Bello University. This institute was established in 1924 as a regional institute with the mandate of researching all aspects of crop improvement for the northern region. In 1962 it was merged with the Faculty of Agriculture of the Ahmadu Bello University. In 1986 its mandate was redefined by the Federal Government of Nigeria to cover the genetic improvement of sorghum, cotton, cowpea and groundnuts and other farming systems requirements of all crops grown in the north. By 1996, the mandate area was reduced to cover only the Northwest of Northern Nigeria with maize in addition to the other crops mentioned earlier.


National Horticultural Research Institute (NIHORT)
Website available in English

The public sector research institute, NIHORT has a mandate for coordinating research in horticultural plants in the country. NIHORTS conducts research into the genetic improvement, production, processing, storage, utilization and marketing of tropical fruits, vegetable and ornamental plants. It has been involved in plant breeding since 1981, and in plant biotechnology since 1996. NIHORT has been involved in two aspects of plant biotechnology -- molecular characterization and tissue culture.


Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria (CRIN)
Website available in English

CRIN is one of the oldest institutions in the country with a mandate on development and distribution of cocoa germplasm to Nigerian farmers. CRIN has been involved in plant breeding since 1965 but only started plant biotechnology in 1995. CRIN has the largest number of plant breeding research staff among the public institutions. Some of CRIN’s work in biotechnology centred on genetic diversity studies of cocoa germplasm. They also worked extensively on aspects of cocoa tissue culture.


Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN)
Website available in English

FRIN was established as the Federal Department of Forest research in 1954 to conduct research into all aspects of forestry and forest products utilization and for the training of technical and sub technical personnel for the forestry services in the country. The mandate has since been extended to include research in wildlife, watershed management and agroforestry


University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD)
Website available in English

UNAD had been involved in plant breeding since 1982 and in plant biotechnology since 2001. 50% of its resources are allocated to maize. The remaining is shared between cassava, cowpea and Telfairia (fluted gourd). Across all the crops, line evaluation accounts for 50% of the allocated resources. As of 2007, breeding for resistance to abiotic stress and for quality traits were high priorities for maize and cassava.


University of Agriculture of Abeokuta (UNAAB)
Website available in English

UNAAB was established in January 1988. It has been involved in plant breeding since 1988 began activities in plant biotechnology in the year 2000. Maize, cowpea and melons are the main crops the university deals with. Some of UNAAB’s work in biotechnology centres on tissue culture and genetic engineering of cowpea as well as providing basic training in recombinant DNA technology. Individual staff had work on several other crops using molecular biology tools.


University of Ibadan (UI)
Website available in English

UI is a public sector university, the first university in the country. UI has been involved in plant breeding since 1940 and started plant biotechnology in 2004. It has the largest concentration of plant breeding research staff among the universities. Maize, cowpea and cassava are the main crops covered by UI’s plant breeding activities. Most of the resources are directed to line evaluation.


Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU)
Website available in English

Public sector University, OAU has been involved in plant breeding since 1968 and started plant biotechnology in 1993. OAU deals mainly with maize, cowpea, kenaf, vegetables and fruits. In all the crops except cassava, emphasis has been on line development. OAU is involved in a number of biotechnology-related areas such as molecular characterization, tissue culture, genetic engineering, gene isolation, and wild crosses.


National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI)
Website available in English

NRCRI, with the national mandate for the genetic improvement, farming systems, processing, utilization and marketing of root and tuber crops was established as a provincial farm in 1923 and assumed the current status of a research institute in 1975. The mandate crops are cassava, yams, cocoyam, ginger, potato, sweetpotato, sugar beet and other minor root crops. With its headquarters in the south-eastern Nigeria rainforest belt, NRCRI has six research stations situated across the different agro-ecologies of the country, a strategy that facilitates multi-locational trials of breeding materials and the development of agronomic packages for specific ecologies. The Institute’s research facilities include 1000 ha of experimental fields including 250 ha at the headquarters; several glasshouses and laboratories. The laboratories include a cell and tissue biology facility that serves also as germplasm repository. Also, the Institute has a molecular biology laboratory. NRCRI’s R&D programmes are characterized by a continuing integration of the novel crop improvement strategies, molecular breeding (including genetic transformation). The Institute collaborates actively with international agricultural research centers and several advanced laboratories and participates in several multi-country projects. NRCRI, with its recent inception of a confined field trial of genetically modified cassava has become the first institute in Nigeria to be so accredited. With a staff strength of about 1000 (made of 96 scientists, 500 technical support staff and 300 in administration), the Institute’s outputs include the official release and registration of 38 and 11 improved varieties of cassava and yam, respectively.

No Website

Jigawa State Research Institute (JSRI)
No Website available

JSRI is a public sector research institute, established in 2002. It allocates all of its human and financial resources to plant biotechnology in sugar cane and baobab.

No Website

National Cereals Research Institute (NCRI)
No Website available

NCRI is a public sector research institute which was established in 1952. It has the national mandate for the genetic improvement of rice, sugarcane, soyabean, beniseed and fonio. Until 1988, the institute also had the national mandate for maize and cowpea. No plant biotechnology work has been done here.

No Website

Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI)
No Website available

LCRI is a public sector research institute established in 1977. It has the national mandate for the genetic improvement of millet, wheat and barley. It has not been involved in any plant biotechnology work.

Private Institutes

No Website

Premier Seed Nigeria Limited (PLC)
No Website available

PLC is a private sector seed company established in 1984 by the former Nigerian Head of State General Olushegun Obasanjo. This is the first indigenous seed company ever established in Nigeria. It started as Agricultural Seed Limited, which was later bought by Pioneer seeds in 1992. Pioneer Seed was later bought by Premier Seeds Nigeria Limited in 1994. The company has been involved in plant breeding activities since 1992 supporting the maize breeding programme of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) based in Ibadan, Nigeria, through the provision of land and infrastructure of its farm in Zaria. The company is not engaged in any plant biotechnology work.
No Website

Alheri Seeds Nigeria Limited
No Website available

Alheri Seeds Nigeria Limited is a subsidiary of Deesham Farms Ltd. and was established in 1997. Alheri seeds is currently involved in the production of high quality seeds of sorghum, maize, cowpea, groundnut and rice. Alheri is fully involved in line evaluation. No biotechnology work is done by Alheri seeds.
No Website

Nagari Seeds Nigeria Limited
No Website available

Nagari Seeds Nigeria Limited was established in 1999/2000 as a private sector seed company. It has been involved in the production and sale of seeds of maize, sorghum, cowpea, rice, groundnuts and other products. Nagari seeds allocates all of its resources to line development and/or evaluation. No germplasm enhancement or biotechnology takes place here.


Information by D.A. Aba and Bakari Aliyu (2009) - Information based on the Nigeria's full report from the PBBC survey.
Last revised 24-03-2010, GIPB.