The management of NRCRI Umudike on the 26th of December, 1997 established the Genetic Resources Unit (GRU) with a view to enhancing the genetic diversity of root and tuber crops and to reduce the rate at which germplasm collection was dwindling in the Institute due to lack of maintenance and effective management.

The Unit maintains a wide range of root and tuber crops of economic importance in her genebank.  Notable among these are cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz), Yams (Dioscorea spp), Cocoyam (Colocaia esculenta  and Xanthasoma spp.), Ginger (Zingiber officiale Roscoe), sweetpotato (Ipomea batata), Potato (Solanium tuberosum), Risga (Plectranthus esculnetus), Turmeric (Curcuma longa linn), Hausa Potato (Solenostemon rotundifolius) and Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris).

The Unit has a broad genetic objective to assemble and conserve crop variants of root and tuber crops of economic importance.  To achieve this, it has to:

  • Organize, explore and collect wild and domesticated species of root and tuber crops across Nigeria.
  • Introduce new genetic variants of root and tuber crops by acquisition, donation and collection.
  • Conserve endangered wild and domesticated species of root and tuber crops for future use.
  • Characterize, evaluate and document genetic species of root and tuber crops.
  • To maintain database for National, Regional and International Agricultural Research
  • Conduct research to enhance the utilization of root and tuber crops germplasm.
  • To provide the identification and coding of germplasm accessions
  • To promote the development and up-date of germplasm inventories on root and tuber crops in the Country.
  • To promote the development and use of manuals of descriptors and germplasm catalogs.
  • To make available the germplasm for exchange, genetic breeding and other uses.
  • Strengthen collaboration with national, regional and International centres and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • Develop research – farmer participatory model for collection, evaluation and conservation of genetic resources of root and tuber crops.


The Unit collaborates with other bodies/agencies both locally and international in other to expand her genetic resource base through exchange of genetic materials.  These organizations include:

  • National Centre for Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (NACGRAB), Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI)
  • International Institute of  Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria.
  • Centro Internationa De Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Cali, Columbia



CROPS                      NO. OF ACCESSIONS

Cassava           –                       1231

Yam                –                       122

Cocoyam         –                       9

Sweet potato   –                       50

Potato              –                       232

Ginger             –                       8

Turmeric          –                       46

Hausa potato  –                        19

Risga               –                       13

Sugar beet       –                       24

Tiger nut          –                       3

A well articulated data-base for the Units field activities in the area of morphological, physiological and molecular characterization

  1. In vitro conservation of all the crops’ accession
  2. Application of modern biotechnological tools to ascertain genetic  diversity and to sustain long-term selection gain will help move the Unit forward.
  3. Use of microsatelite, SSR and Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)  to evaluate genetic diversity and redundancy in the cassava core collection and to assess the usefulness of DNA- based markers to maintain germplasm collection.
  4. Conservation and maintenance of our field germplasm in two locations in Nigeria (Umudike and Otobi)


  1. Publication of the creation of this Unit in the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) newsletter for Sub-Saharan Africa No. 13.2, as a medium for funding and integration into Global germplasm network.
  2. Nigerian Cassava Cultivars: Descriptive and Pictorial Manual.
  3. Nigerian Yam Cultivars: Descriptive and Pictorial Manual
  4. Nigerian Cocoyam and Ginger cultivars:  Descriptive and Pictorial Manual.


Head, Genetic Resources Unit (GRU)