Over the past decade agricultural investments in R&D in Benin have increased as a result of the higher education sector’s enhanced role and the national government’s increased willingness to provide support. Nevertheless, Benin remains largely dependent on donors for the funding of its agricultural research, and in particular on Denmark and Germany. The country’s level of agricultural R&D expenditures is expected to further increase with the 2011 national launching of WAAPP, which will be funded through a World Bank loan.
Notwithstanding these positive expenditure trends, the crisis affecting R&D capacity levels appears to have deepened during 2000–08. INRAB’s overall staff levels have dwindled and the average age of its scientists is approximately 55. This situation is due to a public-sector recruitment freeze and the resulting loss of capacity will, in an imminent future, cause severe detriment to the institute. Currently, approximately two thirds of INRAB’s researchers and technicians are contract workers,
placing the institute at a disadvantage, since fixed-term contracts do not include the same training benefits, or the same career opportunities as do permanent-employment contracts. INRAB and the universities find themselves in close competition for the available funds and this is only likely to increase in the years to come. Since universities offer better working conditions and higher salaries, a growing number of INRAB researchers are striving to find work with university employers.
Stringent measures are required, and without any delay, to enable Benin’s agricultural R&D agencies to face the current human resource crisis and increase their competitive advantage.
Indeed, in the short term, decisions and urgent steps must be taken to boost scientific cooperation among research actors, to cancel the public-sector hiring freeze, and to provide newly recruited young researchers with training opportunities.