In June 1978, the Faculty of Science, University of Ilorin, organized a workshop on SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND NIGERIAN INDUSTRIES. At the end of the workshop, participants unanimously resolved that given the serious shortfall between sugar production and consumption in the country and the proximity of the University of Ilorin to the premier sugar factory in the country, it was desirable for the University of Ilorin to explore the possibility of establishing a “Sugar Research Institute”. The governing council of the University approved the establishment of the Institute on 14th January, 1980.
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE OF THE INSTITUTE
At its inception in 1980, the Institute operated as an “organized research unit” within the Faculty of Science, with its own compliment of academic, technical and administrative staff. The Institute was expected to operate under this arrangement for the first two years, after which it was expected to attain a semi-autonomous status, within the University, under the direction of a Management Board. Even though it currently operates under a Management Board, the Institute has not able to attain its envisaged status to date.
Following a restructuring which took place in 1994, full-time academic staff establishments were phased-out and in their place, the positions of research associates were created. These research associates are expected to carry out the research activities of the Institute under the direction of a Director, who is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor of the University through the Institute’s Management Board.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE INSTITUTE
The major objectives for which the Institute was established are;
1. conducting research into problems associated with sugarcane cultivation, processing and utilization, including the utilization of by-products;
2. disseminating results obtained from these studies to the sugar companies and other relevant bodies within and outside the country;
3. teaching of undergraduate, postgraduate and sugar factory/estate workers in related subjects; and
4. rendering consultancy services on sugarcane cultivation, processing and utilization.
PAST ACTIVITIES OF THE INSTITUTE
Highlights of the activities of the Institute since its inception include the following:
• Various studies have been initiated and concluded in the areas of sugarcane agronomy, weed management, pest and disease control, soil management and varietal development.
• The Institute’s efforts at varietal development have led to the registration of two indigenously bred sugarcane varieties, namely; ILS (Ilorin Sugarcane)-001 and ILS-002.
• The training activities of the Institute have so far been limited to the training of sugarcane estate/factory workers through the Institute’s Proficiency Certificate in Sugar Technology programme. Admission into the programme is restricted to estate/factory workers who are sponsored by their employers. Arising from dwindling enrollments for the programme, the Management Board of the Institute directed that it be suspended in 1992.
• The Institute had both formal and informal contacts with the erstwhile sugar companies as well as with other sugar-related institutions in the country. Through these contacts, the Institute has made some recommendations on sugarcane/sugar production technologies to the companies. A number of such recommendations were adopted by some of the sugar companies.
• In 1997, the Institute entered into a collaborative agreement with the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) to identify the research needs of the then existing large scale sugarcane estates in the country and to develop research proposals for execution. The first phase of the execution of approved projects under this scheme was successfully completed in December, 2002.
CURRENT ACTIVITIES OF THE INSTITUTE
At the moment, the Institute is engaged in (or equipped for) conducting research in the following areas:
• Development of improved sugarcane varieties.
• Evaluation of the productivity/adaptability of new sugarcane varieties in different agro-ecologies of Nigeria.
• Processing of sugarcane for the production of sugar and other products (e.g. ethanol).
• Estimation/Determination of the scale of sugarcane/sugar production in Nigeria.
• Economic analysis of sugarcane/sugar production in Nigeria.
• Comprehensive assessment of industrial sugarcane varieties cultivated in Nigeria.
In addition to the above research activities, the Institute has the capability for rendering consultancy services and organizing training programmes on sugarcane agriculture, processing, etc.