The atmosphere in Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) could be described as lugubrious as some staff that have been kicked out of the semi-autonomous parastatal fail to admit that it is all over.
Impeccable information reaching Taarifa’s Investigative desk confirms that hundreds of highly trained and experienced researchers or technical staff have been dismissed, suspended or are hanging-in acting in inferior positions.
A source privy with the internal dynamics of this agency told Taarifa that the large axe that has seen many of these staff leaving the agency is part of the restructuring process sanctioned by the government aimed at increasing efficiency of RAB.
“This restructuring has been maliciously conducted despite its good intentions,” a source told Taarifa on Condition of anonymity.
“It is how close, one’s negotiation skills or one is viewed at Kacyiru that earns you a place or not. Worse still, newly placed program leaders highjacked the selection process from the original committee, that was itself partial in the first place. Official appeals are sanctioned as indiscipline. Many more have or are contemplating resignations due to these frustrations,” Our source explained.
Previously, Taarifa, spoke to a source who provided a synopsis of the restructuring process saying that requirements and job profiles had been grossly mishandled and that major Public service placement instructions were intentionally ignored.
“It all started with mock CVs requests and submissions to the MINAGRI/RAB senior management beyond deadlines. Supposedly, it allowed intelligence gathering to raise or lower requirements of unwanted and favored staff respectively, before final profiling was sealed,” our source noted.
For example, these are some of the rules and procedures for public service placement violated in the restructuring process.
Article 12 is more explicit: “In order to ensure continued professionalization of Public Service and achieve expected capacity, job profiles will be more competence based than mere degree based. In that context all degree levels including A1, Advanced Diploma and recognized Professional Certificates remain valid in terms of job requirements. Job profiles …to accommodate …candidates with proven skills and competences in lieu of academic degrees…”
According to our source, “This was the major cause for down-grading and loss of decades’ ground-tested researchers and technicians professionals.”
“Requirements for previous restructuring job profiles were set lowly, and we could have researchers in senior positions while they are low in terms of education level, scientific achievements,” Our source explained previously.
Considering Article 13 “Valuating work experience in public services” is emphatic: “Placement or recruitment of a public servant in the context of implementation of rationalization shall not affect negatively his or her career progression. In this regard, the experience acquired from his or her former job position and the corresponding horizontal step promotion are taken in consideration”.
However, in February, the Director General’s office defended the restructuring process noting that previous RAB structures used to have “pools” or groups of staff without specifying their positions. The old structure (2018) used to have “Research and Technology Transfer Staff”, without specifying their areas or ranks.
As a consequence, “we ended up having unbalanced programs, for example so many breeders in beans, maize; so many pathologists in roots and tubers. In the current public sector rationalization, this confusion was addressed.”
Each program must have very specific number of breeders, pathologists/crop protectionists, agronomists/physiologists, and technicians, in well specified and balanced numbers and ratios. As a consequence, if one program had 5 breeders and now there are only 2 positions, 3 must be suspended and compete for positions in other programs.
Deeply explaining this situation, our source is concerned that National priority programs and units have been removed in the new structure.
“Globally, integrated biophysical-market-led ecosystems research is the trend. It is thus indiscernible how the Girinka, Agro-forestry, Climate/ Environment, ICT and the Socio-economic research programs were removed in the new structure,” According to this expert, these are critical for resilience under the current era of climate change and inclusive business value chain models.
“Social-economics, in particular, is a pre-requisite to justify any research investments. Girinka to livestock is like seed to crops research. RAB had the technical monopoly for selection of the right healthy, nutrition-worthy and appropriate good husbandry advisory services of the dairy breeds under Girinka,” says our source on condition of anonymity.
It remains to be assessed whether RAB will live to its own convictions; “Ironically, a heifer cow and agroforestry feature prominently as the face of the RAB logo. Even more telling is RAB Vision: to attain “Improved food security and livelihoods of all Rwandans by transforming agriculture from subsistence into modern farming through generating research and extension innovations that generate sustainable crop, animal husbandry and natural resource management”.