Planting the roots of agricultural education | Bangkok Post: lifestyle

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Planting the roots of agricultural education

Rural development is the focus in the seventh excerpt from Innovative Partners: The Rockefeller Foundation and Thailand

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President J George Harrar and his colleagues chose Kasetsart University (KU) for the work it could do in the areas of hunger and rapid population growth, a focus at the Rockefeller Foundation since the early 1950s. Thailand was predominantly an agricultural country, and committing resources to the only university devoted to agriculture in Thailand proved an easy decision to make. Engaging with Kasetsart appeared to be a guaranteed way of advancing the work of farmers and improving their lives while promoting development. In the end, Foundation funding was put to good use and benefited Kasetsart University, according to an assessment commissioned by the Foundation in 1979. 

Dr Stakman, an early leader in the Green Revolution, discussed root rot problems in 1973 at Kasetsart University with trainees from Thailand, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The trainees were participating in the Inter-Asian Corn Program.

Even so, the University Development Program (UDP) effort at Kasetsart proved considerably more complex than at Mahidol University, where goals were highly focused and only a small number of leaders were responsible for achieving them. At Kasetsart there was more than one goal for the use of Foundation money and numerous officials and agricultural specialists from the Foundation and KU to work with. Historically, the university had strong relations to the Ministry of Agriculture, which added another dimension to decision making. Other funders were also involved, including the World Bank, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Ford Foundation, and Japanese and Dutch development agencies.

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