In the past, Zimbabwe earned a reputation in Africa for its long-established national agricultural research system and high-quality academic institutions. After 2000, however, economic decline constrained the government’s ability to provide adequate funding for agricultural research. In 1992, total public agricultural R&D spending amounted to 299 billion Zimbabwe dollars or 9 million PPP dollars (all in 2005 constant prices), whereas by 2002 this amount had fallen to only 76 billion Zimbabwe dollars or 2 million PPP dollars. Although expenditures grew between 2002 and 2005, inflationary pressures intensified in 2005 and research staff losses began to accelerate. The situation was exacerbated by the withdrawal of donor funding since 2003. In addition, private companies affected by the economy were unable to contract research services as they had done in the past.
Most of the research agencies in Zimbabwe are in need of financial resources to retain and employ additional personnel and to improve their laboratory facilities. Training needs are also significant. BSc-qualified staff accounted for half of Zimbabwe’s total agricultural research capacity in 2008 and 87 percent of research staff at DR&SS—a significant percentage compared with the main public agricultural R&D agencies in other countries of the region.
DR&SS has been most severely affected, having lost almost half of its research capacity between 2003 and 2008. While most of these losses were among junior (BSc-qualified) staff, in general, DR&SS employs very few staff with postgraduate qualifications. Inadequate resources have greatly constrained research operations at DR&SS. In addition, frequent reorganization of DR&SS and Agritex have taken a toll, further impeding departments in their efforts to achieve their mandates.