LONDON—Agricultural research in Africa is being blocked by political interference, mismanagement and cultural disputes among the Western community of scientists working in the region.

The mid-December meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research featured harsh criticism of two of the 13 member centers, according to delegates at the meeting in Washington. In closed-door sessions, the delegates also debated the group's overall research program.

The West African Rice Development Association (WARDA) received particular attention. Based in Liberia, the Association is unique among the centers in that it was established by a number of West African nations and is still governed by the agriculture ministers from these member countries.

WARDA was criticized for its management and personnel policies, and was accused of being slow to alter its unsuccessful line of research. The Association also has had to contend with alleged rivalries spawned by cultural differences among the staff and a...

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