New Dispensation for Agri R&D in Benin?

For those who have long labored with the thorny issue of how to sustainable fund agricultural research and development (R&D) in Africa as well as get all the actors of the system to work together, a recent development in Benin might provide another possible pathway.

A presidential decree signed by President Patrice Talon of Benin and dated March 18, 2020, establishes the National Agricultural Research System (NARS). The NARS in Benin is now composed of public, private, and indigenous innovators active in Benin’s agricultural research milieu.

Several studies have pointed to the inadequacy of funding for agricultural research and development despite recognizing innovations as a significant catalyst for the agricultural industry in West Africa.

Besides Cote d’Ivoire, where agricultural R&D is funded based on an innovative tax arrangement through the Inter-professional Fund for Research and Advisory Council (FIRCA), most of the NARS systems deepen on public funds for the functioning.

What are the Implications?

Many observers and experts believe this is the right step towards the sustainable funding of the NARS activities as its budget will also be appropriated by the National assembly during the annual budgeting process.

“The advantage is that now the Government is the guarantor of NARS-Benin. This should reassure the technical and financial partners on to the contribution of financial and technical resources,” said Dr. Adolphe Adjanohoun, Director General of the National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin (INRAB).

Some experts have argued that while this is a crucial step, there is still a long way to go to ensure it gets the funding level required to operate at its optimum.

The NARS system is often made up of many actors working sometimes with limited coordination and understanding of what the other might be doing. The creation of NARS system in Benin allows them to pool the resources together and as a result potentially achieve greater impact with their outcomes.

What is in the Presidential Decree?

According to the Presidential decree, the NARS of Benin will be an inter-institutional mechanism for the consultation and pooling of resources in the field of agricultural research.

The National Agricultural Research System of Benin brings together:

  • Agricultural research institutes and structures or other institutions with activities; in connection with agricultural research;
  • universities’ agricultural faculties and vocational schools;
  • non-governmental organizations and research firms engaged in agricultural research;
  • associations of independent researchers and indigenous innovators.

What is its Primary Mission?

The primary mission of the NARS of Benin will be to promote the

development in the agricultural sector. The NARS will be responsible for:

  •  Promoting research federating projects and programs and ensuring ownership;
  • Taking account of the principle of subsidiarity in their implementation;
  • Ensuring that the management cycle of agricultural research functions smoothly;
  • To promote consultation and exchanges between the various components of the Benin National Agricultural Research System;
  • To provide institutional support to its members to strengthen their capacities;
  • Capitalize on scientific knowledge and agricultural research achievements;
  • Organize scientific events in the field of agricultural research and the exploitation of research products;
  • Ensure the mobilization of human, financial and material resources and their optimal use;
  • Provide policymakers with tools and information to guide national agricultural policy decisions;
  • Provide users with information and technologies for agricultural development and the advancement of science.

The National Agricultural Research System is overseen by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries.

For the full Presidential Decree, click here.

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