The Green Revolution: Rockefeller Foundation, 1943

Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society (Duke)



Case Study Sector


In 1943, there had not been a single trained plant protectionist in Mexico. Local agriculture was outdated. Twenty years later, the Rockefeller Foundation had contributed, by providing funding, hands-on experience, and often both, to the training of over seven hundred Mexican scientists in fields of agriculture. The success of the Foundation’s efforts in Mexico led many of that country’s neighbors to request similar assistance. To that end, the Foundation set up a similar program in Colombia in 1950. Other countries soon followed, and the benefits of Rockefeller-sponsored research were spread throughout Latin America, and eventually to Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
In 1959, the Rockefeller Foundation was joined in its food production efforts by the Ford Foundation, which paid $7.15 million to build the International Rice Research Institute and contributed an additional $750,000, for research and training, over the Institute’s first three years of operation.
The impact of the Green Revolution was enormous. High-yield agriculture is credited with saving at least a billion lives since the mid-1960s. Global cereal production more than tripled between 1950 and 2000. Absent an adequate supply of food, political stability and economic prosperity cannot be achieved. This is why, in 1970, the Nobel Committee recognized Dr. Norman Borlaug, a Rockefeller agronomist who headed up the wheat division, with its prize for peace.



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