Agricultural Development and the Belgian Congo: L’Institut National pour l’Etude Agronomique du Congo belge

March 2020 to February 2025
agricultural development
colonial sciences
colonial Congo
Research fields
Agriculture and Food Sciences

Through the case of the parastatal agricultural research institute INEAC, this doctoral project wants to study the intersection of (agricultural) science and development for Belgian colonized Africa. The experts working for INEAC in almost 40 stations all over Congo, Rwanda and Burundi studied everything from coffee trees to agricultural engineering. INEAC was also explicitly tasked with ‘improving indigenous agriculture’. The results of their work were taught in agricultural schools throughout the Belgian colonies and used in the paysannats, agricultural settlement schemes. Did their scientific findings inform and change development policy and discourse? Did the development objectives of the Belgian colonial state inform and change their scientific objectives? Did any influence persist after independence?

A second part is the study of their impact in Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi. INEAC’s stations were placed near communities, took over land, and needed labour. Their results too were imposed on local communities through agricultural education and policy which dictated methods, materials and crops.  How did local Africans interpret and interact with INEAC stations and scientists? How was indigenous knowledge incorporated, if at all?