Picture of the CGIAR logoIITA is part of the 15 international research centers scattered across the world under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). The CGIAR is one of the most successful research-for-development organizations. Its roots go back to the Mexico-Rockefeller Foundation International Agricultural Program that successfully led to Mexico’s self-sufficiency in wheat by 1969. The Rockefeller Foundation wanted to expand this success to Asia, and thus established a partnership with the Ford Foundation to set up the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines. The success of IRRI led the two foundations to establish three more institutes: CIMMYT, CIAT, and IITA.

The CGIAR was officially established in 1971 through what was later dubbed the First Bellagio Conference. The conference, hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation, brought together top officials from major organizations and focused on agricultural development and emphasized the need for financial assistance for institutions at the international, regional, and national level.

Picture of participants at the First Bellagio Conference.

The CGIAR was officially established in 1971 through what was later dubbed the First Bellagio Conference.

Due to the discussion that ensued after the conference in their respective agencies, the president of the World Bank sent letters to the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the administrator of the United Nations Development Programme. The letter was a proposal to organize a long-term program of support for the four existing regional agricultural research institutes, and a proposal to establish more. This program of support is what is called the CGIAR.

CGIAR has evolved over the years. The partnership is now officially called CGIAR System Organization.


CGIAR, 2012. The CGIAR at 40: Institutional Revolution of the World’s Premier Agricultural Research Network

Ortiz, Rodomiro, compiler. 2017. IITA: 50 years after: Transforming Africa’s Agriculture and Nourishing Rural Development,. IITA, Ibadan, Nigeria. 110 pages.

* Not used anymore.