Will Martin Myers, a representative of the Rockefeller Foundation, wrote a 38-page document entitled “International Institute of Tropical Agriculture: Tentative Scope of the Scientific Program”[1] in 1964. In his paper, he emphasized that he was not “necessarily implying a departmental structure of administrative organization.” Myers proposed research in areas that include plant sciences, agronomy and soil science, plant protection, biochemistry plant protection, biochemistry, animal sciences, agricultural engineering, and economics and other social sciences[2].

This large agenda may seem unrealistic today, but nearly 10 years after Myers’ paper was written, the institution was already working on legumes, and root and tuber crops. The institution was also already working on a project to introduce, select, and breed various crops with a view to integrating these into farming systems. Inevitably, Myers’ suggestion was eventually considered by management as the institution’s mandate, making it an integral document for understanding IITA’s history[3].


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


[1] Lawani, S.M., Sustainable food production in sub-saharan Africa, “History and evolution of IITA’s scientific program”, 3

[2] Ibid., 9

[3] Ibid., 10