Relation between Indonesia and WUR was defining for development cooperation

Indonesia is the model for the development relation between Wageningen University and Asian, African and Latin American countries, according to an article on Global Brand Wageningen published in Resource.
Albert Sikkema


Wageningen University, which celebrates its centenary this year, has built its global reputation by starting in the Dutch East Indies. Between the years 1925 and 1940, the brand new National Agricultural College provided test stations in what was at the time a colony with countless graduates in plant breeding, forestry and soil science. They took it upon themselves to improve harvests and create better production circumstances of important crops, such as rice, coffee, rubber, cinchona and sugarcane. As the colonial planters could gain much from this knowledge, the practical Wageningen graduates acquired a very strong reputation in the Dutch East Indies.

Development projects

This was also why after World War II and the Indonesian National Revolution, most Wageningen alumni had no trouble finding work with companies and development projects in Third World countries. There, in test stations similar to those in the Dutch East Indies, they worked on long-term research projects and the improvement of capacity at universities in development projects. After 1965, the Wageningen alumni once more found positions in long-term development projects in Indonesia as well.


But this development model ended in 1992, when a breach occurred between the Netherlands and Indonesia. The Indonesian president Suharto deported all Dutch researchers after the Indonesian army had brutally suppressed marches for independence held on East Timor, an act protested by the Dutch Minister for Development Cooperation Jan Pronk.

Change in course

This breach marked a change in course for the Dutch development policy. In the new situation, Wageningen stopped building experimental gardens and faculties around the world and focused on educating students and PhDs. In the current development cooperation, these PhDs are often the catalysts for market and policy processes in their country. Including Indonesia.

The global brand Wageningen was started by Wageningen students in the Dutch East Indies, but the development relations today are mainly shaped by international master’s students and PhD candidates who come to Wageningen for education.

Read the full story in today’s Resource magazine or here..

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