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Timeline Events / Bellagio Conference on international agricultural research

The Ford and Rockefeller foundations invented the centre model for international agricultural research – developing and financing the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines (launched in 1962), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in Mexico (in 1966), as well as the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia, both established in 1967.  Thus the Bellagio Conference helped formalise the ‘centre’ model for international agricultural research, furthering the ‘Green Revolution’.

At the Bellagio conference in 1969, directors of the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations met to discuss further addressing world food needs through the development of additional specialised International Agricultural Research Centres. After two follow-up conferences at Bellagio in the spring of 1970, it was agreed to set up a Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, a network linking the international agricultural research centres, and in 1971 the organization that carries its acronym (CGIAR) was formed, under the leadership of the World Bank.

These centres became an international model of science and technology production at ‘centres of excellence’, and were instrumental in pushing forward the controversial ‘Green Revolution’. (Hardin, 2008) Though the associated policies and practices were well underway by the late 1960s, the term ‘Green Revolution’ was only first used in 1968 by former USAID director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies and said, “These and other developments in the field of agriculture contain the makings of a new revolution. It is not a violent Red Revolution like that of the Soviets, nor is it a White Revolution like that of the Shah of Iran. I call it the Green Revolution.” (Gaud, 1968)



Hardin, L. (2008) ‘Bellagio 1969: The Green Revolution’ Essay, Opinion : Meetings that Changed the World. Nature (Vol 455) 25 September, 2008.pp 470-471.  Available online at:

Gaud, W. S. (1968) ‘The Green Revolution: Accomplishments and Apprehensions’ Address by The Honorable William S. Gaud, Administrator, Agency for International Development, Department of State, before The Society for International Development, Shorehan Hotel, Washington, DC, March 8, 1968.  Available online at:

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