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National Research Institute for Chemical Technology started as hides and skins demonstration and training project established by the food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria and the then Northern Nigerian Government in 1964.

In 1972 the project was handed over to the Federal Government by the FAO/UNDP and subsequently renamed Federal Leather Training Institute in 1976, based on the provision of the Research Institutions establishment order of 1975, the Institute was upgraded to the status of a Research Institute and renamed Leather Research Institute of Nigeria (LERIN) under the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), a body that was itself established under the Agricultural Research Institutes Decree, No 35 of 1973.

The Institute was given the mandate to conduct research into all aspects of Leather and Science and Technology and to train middle-level manpower in hides and skin improvement leather and Leather Products Technology. After that, two tanneries in Sokoto and Maiduguri owned by the Federal Government which were hitherto supervised by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture were transferred to LERIN and thus they became the Research Extension Centres of the new Research Institute.

Along with other agriculture related Research Institutes, LERIN was placed under the supervision of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), reported directly to the presidency through the then office of the chief of staff, supreme headquarters.

The National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) was established in April 1988 as a result of the expanded mandate of the former Leather Research Institute of Nigeria (LERIN), which was established in April 1976 to include Research and Development into Chemical Technology and the name was charged to National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT).

The Institute transferred its Leather programme activities to the Federal College of Leather and Chemical Technology (CHELTECH), Zaria including Sokoto, Maiduguri Kano and the leather programme in Jos with effect from 26th June, 2009 following the ministerial approval.

Federal College of Leather and Chemical Technology (CHELTECH) Zaria later named NILEST (Nigeria Institute of Leather Science and Technology with the leather mandate). NARICT was to concentrate on Research and Development (R & D) of chemicals and petrochemicals from the abundant natural resources in Nigeria.

NARICT presently conducts R&D in Petrochemicals, Industrial Chemicals Textiles, Plastics and Allied products as well as developing chemical industries machinery.

The institute is also involved in monitoring and control of effluents from chemical industries in Kano and Kaduna States.