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Chapter 5 For Better or Worse? The Impact of the Veterinarian Service on the Development of the Agricultural Society in Java (Indonesia) in the Nineteenth Century Martine Barwegen Many authors researching the agricultural history of Java or Indonesia mention the importance of livestock and its contribution to economic developments. However, they do not provide a detailed study of the historical , economic, and ecological significance of the livestock sector. In this chapter, I will explore the impact of the veterinarian service and its contributions , both positive and negative, to combating cattle plague. The sporadic occurrence of cattle plagues (rinderpest) in the seventeenth century has been overshadowed by the great epidemics of human plague. Veterinary medicine as such was nonexistent at that time, both in theory and practice apart from a few treatises on diseases of horses, reflecting the preoccupation of the ruling classes in Europe with this important transport animal. In the nineteenth century, this was still the case in Indonesia . In 1814, the first military horse veterinarian arrived in Java. The corps of military horse veterinarians grew to five men in 1851, just before the establishment of the civil veterinary service (Burgerlijke Veeartsenijkundige Dienst [BVD]) in 1853. These military horse veterinarians had hardly any For Better or Worse? |  interest in the livestock belonging to Javanese farmers, although attending to their animals was part of their job. With the establishment of the civil veterinary service, Javanese livestock holders could utilize a form of science that was new to their culture. Javanese cattle holders had always made use of knowledge inherited from their ancestors and based on their own experiences. Lise Wilkinson, with just one sentence, inspired me to look further into the question as to whether the development of the veterinary service in the nineteenth century actually benefited Indonesian cattle owners, especially when the cattle plague raged over Java in 1878. She wrote, “It is also possible that climatic factors and political difficulties added to the seriousness of the situation and to the complexities faced by the authorities.”1 Unfortunately, that was all she wrote because it was never questioned whether the status and condition of the livestock improved after the introduction of the veterinary service.2 On the other hand, the impact of military horse veterinarians was questioned by Groeneveld in 1916: Isn’t it peculiar that everywhere a breed breeds itself, it has so many good characteristics, and isn’t it typical that greatest degeneration is to be found in the areas where Europeans tried to improve the breeds and where castration was practiced? . . . Then we have to acknowledge that it is exactly through our interference—direct and indirect—that the present situation is created and that nowhere the dawn of the day glories.3 In the context of the civil livestock economy, the question arises as to why the outbreak of the cattle plague in 1878 ruined the West-Javanese agriculture and led to famine.What was the effect of official policies aimed at suppressing this epizootic? In this chapter, the contribution of the veterinary service to the development of the Javanese agricultural society will be studied using the cattle plague as an example. To answer these questions, first an overview of the development of the veterinary service will be given, followed by a description of the outbreak of the cattle plague in 1878. The Establishment of the CivilVeterinary Service (BVD) In Europe, veterinary schools appeared at the end of the eighteenth century. One of the main reasons was that national governments became increasingly concerned about their agricultural yields and slowly realized the economic impact of contagious diseases of livestock. The pressure on agriculture rose during serious disease outbreaks when casualties among  | Martine Barwegen livestock were high, so governments began to fight diseases systematically and scientifically. In the Netherlands, the first veterinarian school was established in 1820 at Utrecht, sixty years after the first school in Europe opened its doors. In 1820, the first civil veterinarian, one Coppieters, arrived in Java. He died in 1822 and was not replaced. A decree to appoint a successor was formulated in 1838 but was withdrawn in 1839.4 It is unclear whether more veterinarians were recruited after 1839, but until the establishment of the Civil Veterinary Service in 1853, veterinary medicine for farmers was assigned to the military horse veterinarians.5 These veterinarians felt little responsibility for the livestock of the local population. Because of the shortfall in manpower, the veterinary service was active only in Java from 1853 to 1869...


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