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Doctoral thesis, 2016

Exporting agrarian expertise

Bruno, Karl


Agrarian expertise has been employed in the context of Swedish development aid since the 1950s. Throughout this time, the Swedish institutions of higher agrarian education—the Agricultural College, the College of Forestry, and the Veterinary College, in 1977 merged to form the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences—have played important roles. In this dissertation I consider three problems with respect to these institutions’ involvement in development aid: (1) How and why did actors at the three colleges begin framing their expertise in a development context? (2) How did Swedish agrarian experts approach the problem of development in contexts about which they had little prior knowledge? (3) How and why did a long-term institutional collaboration evolve between the agrarian institutions of higher learning and the Swedish development aid authorities, and what were its characteristics? The study follows actors and their standpoints through three different aid projects: international courses in animal reproduction at the Veterinary College first planned and held in the mid-1950s; the planning and implementation of the Chilalo Agricultural Development Unit in the 1960s and 1970s; and SLU’s support to higher forestry education in Ethiopia in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. It also examines the growth and subsequent decline of a continuous institutional collaboration between the institutions of higher agrarian education and SIDA, the Swedish government agency responsible for development aid. Based on my findings, I argue that the framing of Swedish agrarian expertise as relevant to the developing countries—particularly at the Agricultural College in the 1960s—was part of a broader attempt to widen the scope of agrarian science in Sweden in response to social change at home. At the same time, the development strategies proposed by the Swedish experts were anchored in the particulars of the Swedish agrarian context. This made them attuned to the local adaptation of technologies and to the value of practical knowledge but less sensitive to the societal contexts and social effects of their interventions. Their attempts to bring their knowledge to bear on the developing world also helped create a long-lasting institutionalized relationship between SLU (and the three colleges before it) and the Swedish development aid authorities, through which SLU exercised influence on much of Sweden’s agrarian development aid from the mid-1960s to the early 1990s.


animal reproduction; Chilalo Agricultural Development Unit; development aid; Ethiopia; forestry education; India; rural development; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; technology transfer; Wondo Genet

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2016, number: 2016:59
ISBN: 978-91-576-8620-6, eISBN: 978-91-576-8621-3
Publisher: Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Bruno, Karl
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

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