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Benin: ASTI–INRAB Country Factsheet

Benin: ASTI–INRAB Country Factsheet

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Léa Vicky Magne Domgho, Marcellin Allagbé, and Gert-Jan Stads


International Food Policy Research Institute and the National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin

Publication category

Africa south of the Sahara

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Erratic expenditures

Agricultural research expenditures rose by 41 percent between 2000 and 2014, largely driven by greater involvement in agricultural research by UAC and growth in INRAB’s internally generated revenues. Yearly spending levels were highly variable over time, however. Government funding barely covered INRAB’s salary bill, leaving the institute dependent on short-term donor-funded projects and revenues from seed sales. More recently, the situation has improved based on the government’s 2016 approval of special funding for INRAB.

Aging pool of researchers

Civil service recruitment restrictions were in effect from 1986 until very recently. During this time, INRAB could only appoint contract-based researchers, but lack of project funding made this problematic. Consequently, INRAB currently lacks a critical mass of researchers in a number of key disciplines. As a side effect of the recruitment ban, more than 80 percent of INRAB’s researchers are now over 50 years old and approaching the official retirement age of 60 years. Recruitment and training of young researchers is an urgent priority. I

nequitable remuneration

Unlike their university-based colleagues, INRAB’s scientists are classified as public servants, not researchers, so their salaries are much lower. This, combined with universities’ benefits associated with membership in CAMES (francophone Africa’s higher education council), make it hard for INRAB to compete for qualified staff. However, based on their academic focus, universities have much weaker linkages with farmers, whereas INRAB conducts applied research relevant to farmers’ specific needs. A decree to institute parity across sectors is expected to be approved in the near future.

Capital investment needed

Most of INRAB’s laboratories lack up-to-date research equipment and facilities, and the number of vehicles is inadequate. With low levels of capital investment, research infrastructure has deteriorated over time, understandably having negative impacts on the quality and quantitity of research outputs. Investment in the rehabilitation of research centers (other than those currently being rehabilitated under WAAPP) is crucial to the effective conduct of research, to retaining and motivating researchers, and to the development of high-quality outputs.