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Mauritania: ASTI Country Factsheet
Léa Vicky Magne Domgho, Souleymane Guèye, and Gert-Jan Stads
International Food Policy Research Institute
Compared with many other countries in West Africa, crop and livestock research play a relatively minor role in Mauritania given its arid climate. IMROP, which focuses on fisheries research, accounted for the bulk of the country’s agricultural research spending in 2014. IMROP’s funding, which has fluctuated considerably over time due to the expiration and renewal of various fisheries treaties with the European Union, was the main driver of significant longterm volatility in the country’s total agricultural research investment.
Funding shortages, lack of a critical mass of qualified scientists, and dilapidated infrastructure limit CNRADA’s and CNERV’s research outputs and, hence, their impact on Mauritania’s crop and livestock sectors. WAAPP—a World Bank–funded project, currently in preparation in Mauritania—is set to address these centers’ most acute human resource challenges. To maintain and motivate researchers over time, however, inequities in status and salary levels of researchers employed at CNRADA and CNERV versus those employed at IMROP and in the higher education sector need to be addressed.
Institutional reform needed
Although the World Bank– funded Agricultural Services Program (1995–2004) included plans to merge CNRADA and CNERV to form a single NARI and establish a national agricultural research plan, none of this materialized. Twelve years later, the country still urgently needs a more effective national S&T policy strategy, better coordination of agricultural research, and further strengthening of its crop and livestock research institutes. Strong political will and matching funding are needed to revitalize agricultural research in Mauritania.
Limited private research
Agricultural research performed by the private sector is minimal in Mauritania. Most of the larger agricultural companies do not employ in-house research staff, but instead outsource their research to IMROP, CNRADA, or CNERV. Top Lait, a milk producer, is the only company identified as being actively involved in agricultural research. Its 3 FTE researchers carry out research related to livestock genetic improvement, fodder, and animal health.
Mauritania: ASTI–CNERV Country Factsheet
Gert-Jan Stads, Souleymane Guèye, and Léa Vicky Magne Domgho
International Food Policy Research Institute and National Livestock and Veterinary Research Center.
Compared with many other countries in West Africa, crop and livestock research play a relatively minor role in Mauritania given its arid climate. IMROP, which focuses on fisheries research, is the country’s largest agricultural R&D agency, accounting for close to two-thirds of Mauritania’s agricultural R&D spending in 2011.
Total agricultural R&D spending fluctuated considerably during 2001–2011. The 2013 renewal of the fisheries treaty between Mauritania and the EU is expected to have a positive impact on spending levels in the near future.
IMROP is relatively well- funded and resourced, but the main crop and livestock research centers (CNRADA and CNERV) and the higher education agencies lack sufficient funding and research staffing.
Mauritania: ASTI–CNERV Country Brief
Stads, Gert-Jan; Lo, Abdoulaye; Diallo, Boubacar Cisse
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR); and National Livestock and Veterinary Research Center (CNERV)
Since the beginning of the 1990s, Mauritania’s agricultural researcher numbers have steadily increased, though in recent years increasing researcher numbers at IMROP mask decreasing researcher numbers at CNERV and CNRADA. Agricultural research budgets followed this overall upward trend up until 2000, after which expenditure totals fell. Expenditures rebounded with the signing of a fisheries treaty between the European Union and Mauritania in 2002.
CNRADA and CNERV face serious financial difficulty. With the cessation of World Bank funded PSA in 2000 many research activities at these centers have been halted, precipitating an exodus of researchers seeking opportunities elsewhere. A merger between CNRADA and CNERV is possible, as is the initiation of a second phase of PSA. Another promising possibility is the establishment of a milk treaty between the European Union and Mauritania along the lines of the existing fisheries treaty. For the time being, however, the future remains uncertain.
In contrast, IMROP has thrived in recent years because of the fisheries treaty, which has enabled IMROP to achieve institute status and to attract substantial secure funding not only from the European Union and the national government but also from a variety of additional donors.
Agricultural R&D in Mauritania can be described as employing a relatively small number of crop and livestock researchers, low levels of highly qualified researchers, and low levels of female researchers compared with neighboring countries. It also distinguishes itself from its neighbors in having three main government agencies involved in agricultural R&D as opposed to the more usual one, and in having quite a low share of agricultural research conducted within higher education
Mauritania: ASTI–CNERV Country Note
Stads, Gert-Jan; Guèye, Sileymane; Dia, Mamadou Lamine
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and National Livestock and Veterinary Research Center (CNERV)
Being a sparsely populated desert country, Mauritania’s total agricultural R&D capacity and investments are understandably significantly lower than those of many West African countries. In 2008, the country employed 74 agricultural R&D staff in FTEs and spent 752 million ouguiyas or 8 million PPP dollars on agricultural R&D (both in 2005 prices). Fisheries research dominates Mauritania’s agricultural research system. The 2002 signing of a fisheries treaty between Mauritania and the European Union prompted a large influx of funding, causing IMROP to gain official institute status and expand its human resource capacity. The 2008 establishment of ONISPA, which had previously been a department of IMROP, prompted a decline in IMROP’s overall capacity and expenditure levels; however, the renewal of the fisheries treaties between Mauritania and the European Union and Japan, ensures that the institute’s R&D funding will remain relatively secure in the years to come.
This situation sharply contrasts that of CNRADA and CNERV, the country’s main agencies for crop and livestock research. Both centers have seen their R&D budgets shrink since the completion of PSA in 2000, which had been funded through a World Bank loan. Training opportunities for staff are limited, and retiring staff members are not being replaced, causing a gradual aging of the scientist pool. The situation at the University of Nouakchott is not much better.
In summary, Mauritania’s agricultural R&D system is split: on the one hand, IMROP is relatively well-funded and benefits from modern facilities, whereas on the other hand, entities like CNRADA, CNERV, and the other government and higher education agencies struggle financially and consequently have difficulty attracting well-qualified research staff. Sustainable financial support is crucial for all of Mauritania’s agricultural research agencies, not just those focused on the incomegenerating fisheries sector. Funding is especially needed for those entities focused on helping to produce much-needed food crops and to promote development initiatives to mitigate rural poverty. Unfortunately, the Government of Mauritania currently lacks the means, capacity, and sense of urgency to implement far-reaching S&T policies in favor of the agricultural sector.