The official legislation that would eventually construct IITA was just being reviewed by representatives of the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations when Nigeria’s first military coup took place on 15 January 1966. The civil war that this coup led to had people questioning the decision to establish the institution in the country.

Forrest (Frosty) Hill, vice president of the Ford Foundation at the time, reinforced the decision to establish the institution in Nigeria in a taped interview. He noted that at the time the decision was made, nobody had anticipated the outbreak of a civil war. He also reiterated the various reasons as to why they decided to establish the institution in Nigeria, such as “Nigeria’s resource endowments, encouraging economic growth, possession of the two best universities in sub-Saharan Africa, and a simple lack of better alternatives.” Therefore, planning of IITA’s facilities continued without serious interruption, albeit a little slow.


Lawani, S. 1992. History and Evolution of IITA’s Scientific Program. Sustainable Food Production in sub-Saharan Africa, pp. 1-23.