WAU historian Frans Huijzendveld has consulted many documents in Germany and Tanzania in order to describe the fall of the Sambaa kingdom in northeastern Tanzania which took place between 1870 and 1920. The Sambaa lived in a hilly area covered with forest. They grew bananas and established efficient irrigation systems, but their civilisation collapsed through their involvement with the ivory and slave trade, social disruptions and, in the last instance, oppression by the German colonisers. The result was drastic ecological degradation. Huijzendveld opposes the prevailing theory that problems with the environment in Africa worsened in the 1920's, when small farmers started to grow cash crops. The decline already started before the Germans occupied Tanzania, according to Huijzendveld
The WAU has radically changed its educational programme Environmental Science in the past two years. The engineer degree course, which was extended by an extra year, has developed a foundation course of its own, integrated the technical and social sciences more, mixed the theoretical and practical courses and spread them out over the five-year programme. However, the programme has lost its specialisation on the environment in developing countries. The course committee should takes steps to amend this situation, says course secretary Henk de Jager. An international university like the WAU should focus on developing countries as well.
The epidemic of swine fever now raging in the province of Brabant has caused severe economic damage for the pig breeders and farmers - several hundred thousand pigs have been or are about to be destroyed, in order to stop the spread of the disease. Swine fever is very strong and destructive, so total extermination of the virus will probably not be possible, according to WAU experts' predictions. Killing so many pigs may therefore not be the best strategy to control the disease. Agronomists should look for genetic resistance in pigs to the deadly fever, which - by the way - is not harmful to human beings
The departments involved in the MSc programme Crop Science, have undergone an unprecedented number of redundancies in the past five years. There budget was reduced by seven million guilders in 1992, because the number of Dutch students had dropped severely in the past. The number of professors has now been reduced from 24 to 17 and the number of fulltime jobs has been decreased by 20 percent. But the departments still overspent by two million guilders last year and the University Council wants them to go on with these cuts until the bitter end. An external committee has now been appointed to assess the quality of the department, and advise on additional measures to reorganise this sector
The fusion of the WAU and the DLO institutes of agricultural research will take some time, because DLO first has to privatise, thus becoming independent from the Ministry of Agriculture. The DLO works council is strongly in favour of the privatisation, because it will make the relation with their main client more relevant. WAU and DLO cannot merge before the ministry has finished the privatisation, because the WAU cannot merge with the Ministry of Agriculture, explains the chairman of the council, Herbert Diemont