Agriculture in Gabon has traditionally been overshadowed by more economically attractive sectors such as mining and oil, with the result that the country’s agricultural expenditures and researcher numbers have remained exceptionally low compared with many other African countries. With a declining natural resource base in mining and oil, however, agriculture has gained prominence in recent years.
Both donor funding, particularly in support of forestry research, and national government funding have grown, with the result that many of CENAREST’s facilities have recently been renovated or are undergoing renovations. Similarly, total agricultural researcher numbers at the CENAREST institutes have risen, and total agricultural research expenditures more than doubled between 1997 and 2002. Nevertheless, given capital expenditure for agricultural research was nonexistent
during 1991–97, the subsequent growth represents much-needed regaining of lost ground. Nevertheless, additional national government funding will still be needed if the agricultural sector is to effectively contribute to the economy and enable Gabon to become self sufficient in terms of food production. Further work needs to be done in establishing adequate agricultural policies and research structures, and in securing adequate funding to bring the national agricultural research system in line with other countries in the region, and then maintain it. Sufficient incentives need to be offered to attract and keep qualified agricultural research staff, thereby redressing the brain drain into other sectors that has occurred over the past decade.