The Root Crops Unit is responsible for the research administration of three Research Programmes, namely: Cassava (Manihot esculenta) Programme, Sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) Programme and Minor Root Crops Programme.
The overall objectives of these Commodity Progammes is to improve the crops genetically and develop appropriate agronomic and plant protection packages that ensure sustainable high productivity. Currently, Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava with annual production level of 52 million metric tonnes; the national annual production figure for sweetpotato is 3.9 million metric tonnes. The minor Root Crops Programme researches on Turmeric (Curcuma longa), Rizga/Livingstone Potato (Plecranthus esculentus), Hausa Potato (Solestemon rotundifolius) and Amora/Polynesian arrowroot and very good efforts have been made by the Programme to give them prominence in their utilization for food and industry in Nigeria.
Cassava and Sweetpotato Programmes carry out collaborative work with many national and international institutions that are actively involved in agricultural research and the combined efforts have yielded beneficial results which have given NRCRI global prominence in root crops research. Forty six (46) improved cassava varieties have been released to farmers among which are 6 beta-carotene (Pro-vitamin A) varieties. Sweetpotato varieties with high levels of beta-carotene contents have also been developed and value-added food products are being produced from them for improved nutrition of children in the country.