A golden age (1933-1960)

The National Institute for the Agronomic Study of the Belgian Congo (INEAC) was founded on December 22, 1933 under the leadership of the future King Leopold III, with the aim of promoting the scientific development of the Belgian Congo.

Across the territory of the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, INEAC developed a network of thirty-seven research stations, the most important located in Yangambi, on the banks of the majestic Congo River. The Yangambi research station covered 25,000 hectares, bordering a forest area of over 200,000 hectares, which allowed scientists to carry out agronomic and forestry research.

To support its objectives, the Yangambi station employed more than one hundred researchers working in twenty-one divisions, each with modern equipment, laboratories, offices and testing fields.

These divisions covered many fields, including agricultural entomology, biometrics, rubber cultivation, rural engineering, botany and forestry. The institution obtained remarkable results, notably in the improvement of cultivation techniques and the selection of improved varieties of oil palm, coffee, rubber and cotton.

INEAC was considered the most important and renowned agricultural institute in Africa until the 1960s, when more than ten thousand people were employed by the institution. However, following the independence of the Belgian Congo in 1960, and that of Ruanda-Urundi, INEAC was dismantled on December 31, 1962 and renamed INERA.

Despite a strong will to continue its scientific programs, INERA was affected by regional instability and conflict, and gradually most research, collaboration and training activities came to a halt. This decline had disastrous consequences for local development and natural resource conservation. 

Analyzes an INEAC laboratory in Yangambi.
INEAC, Yangambi, Belgian Congo, circa 1950
INERA Library Collection

Analyzes an INEAC laboratory in Yangambi.
Reproduction of this photographic material requires written authorization from CIFOR/INERA

This exhibit is possible thanks to the support of the Embassy of Belgium in Kinshasa and the European Union 

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Joelle Grandjean, Christian Besombi Afanta, Ahtziri Gonzalez, Axel Fassio, Basile Houters, Michel Lokonda.