Personelle Engpässe: Tropenlandwirte für die „Entwicklungshilfe“
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From the beginning, the Federal German concept of ‚development aid‘ was based primarily on the direct transfer of knowledge by appropriately trained professionals. However, especially in the area of agricultural aid, there was initially a glaring shortage of appropriately trained farmers, which hindered the continuation and expansion of the projects. This shortage was historically caused by the fact that since the loss of the colonies in the Treaty of Versailles in 1918, Germany – unlike the classic colonial states – no longer had a staff of experts with experience in the tropics. Politicians solved this deficit pragmatically by resorting to an existing training institution, which in turn adapted to the changing requirements just as pragmatically in terms of training course, level and content. This was initially the „Lehranstalt für Tropischen und Subtropischen Landbau“ (LTSL), established in 1957, the successor to the former German Colonial School in Witzhausen. The LTSL tried to shake off the colonial image of its predecessor institution; a difficult undertaking, especially since it was not accompanied by its own critical retrospection and a corresponding reappraisal of the past. Year after year, LTSL graduates increasingly began their professional careers in development policy organisations. This resulted in a temporary win-win situation for all parties involved, which lasted as long as the conception of the Federal German development aid required practically trained tropical farmers for its model farms and demonstration goods. With the change in this orientation towards more complex collaborative and regional projects and the embedding of experts in domestic administrations, the profile of requirements changed towards more academic training and the integration of new, development-specific teaching content. A first indication of this was the founding of the Rural Development Seminar in 1963, which gave greater consideration to political, cultural and social issues in the ‚developing countries‘. Following the changing demand, the Witzenhausen teaching institution developed over time via the German School of Engineering for Tropical Agriculture, established in 1966, into the university department that exists today.
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