Recent developments in agricultural research

Rwandan agricultural research agencies have been restored since the first half of the 1990s, but challenges still remain. Agricultural research capacity grew modestly between 2005 and 2009, from 100 to 116 FTEs. This growth mainly occurred in the higher education sector. Overall, the qualification levels of research staff clearly improved between 2005 and 2009, given that the number of MSc-qualified staff doubled. Rwanda’s agricultural research staff is, however, younger and less well-qualified in terms of postgraduate degrees when compared with staff in other countries of the region. Despite government and donor training efforts, greater investment is needed to raise staff qualifications to the levels necessary across all agencies and to increase the proportion of senior staff. The lack of national PhD programs in the agricultural sciences is also a significant constraint to improving qualification levels. To overcome these challenges in the short run, the country has managed to attract a large number of foreign scientists on a contract basis to fill a number of vacancies. Ongoing training initiatives will need to address the problem in the longer term.

In 2009, investment in agricultural R&D in Rwanda totaled 3.6 billion Rwandan francs or 19.2 million PPP dollars (both in 2005 constant prices), representing a slight increase over 2005 levels.

The country’s agricultural research agencies are highly dependent on donor and development bank funding. Furthermore, the 2009 research intensity ratio of $0.51 indicates that investment in agricultural R&D is relatively low in Rwanda compared with the overall importance of the sector to the economy. In addition, the translation of research results into agricultural development has been weak given the lack of coordination between research, extension, and end-users. The recent restructuring of ISAR and the extension agencies under the authority of RAB is intended to address this issue. However, investment and capacity limitations must also be addressed if the new Board is to lead a more effective agricultural research and extension system.

Flaherty, Kathleen
Munyengabe, Jean Marie
Published date: 
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI); and Rwanda Agricultural Research Institute (ISAR)
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