How the Mexican Agriculture Program created a method for intensifying agriculture on a global level.

Black and white image of a group of men standing in front of vechicles. Men on the left side of the image stand in front of a truck with a chalk board speaking towards the men on the right side of the photo. Men on the right side, standing in front of a car, are taking notes.
The RF’s Mexican Agriculture Program.

The RF’s Mexican Agriculture Program and the other programs developed on that model gave farmers in developing countries the tools they needed to modify agricultural techniques and maximize return.

Black and white image of corn next to a measuring sit that reads "CM 100, 80, 60 and 40".
“Green Revolution”

The scientific, intensive agriculture that the RF pioneered on a large international scale (first on its own and later in partnership with the Ford Foundation) was touted as a “Green Revolution” in a 1968 speech –twenty-five years after MAP began. The name stuck.

Black and white image of a field in Mexico used for soil research.
Experiment Station at Chapingo.

Experiment Station at Chapingo. The Mexican government partnered with the RF to establish a permanent facility for plant research and shared learning. Mexico donated the facilities, and the RF funded staff salaries and operating expenses.

Black and white image of corn labeled with the tag "V-520-C".
Cross-bred native corn

Although 58 percent of Mexico’s cropland was given to corn, yield remained low until 1948 when the MAP distributed improved varieties to farmers, which increased by 125,000 tons. RF scientists cross-bred native corn with open–pollinated varieties, increasing yield by 125,000 tons.

Black and white image of "agronomistos", harvesting rice in a field.

RF-supported education and training helped professionalize locals and created a new network of native-born experts, or “agronomistos.”

Black and white image of an experimentation station. Equipment in being driven by a person wearing a white hat.
Soil research enabled the development of targeted inputs.

Soil research enabled the development of targeted inputs –fertilizers, irrigation systems, and pesticides –on which intensive, high-yield agriculture depends.

Black and white image of the hands of Norman E. Borlaug holding a piece of "Norin" dwarf wheat.
“Norin” dwarf wheat

Plant pathologist Norman E. Borlaug introduced “Norin” dwarf wheat, a shorter variety that was resilient and compatible with Mexico’s climates. Mexico became a wheat exporter by 1956.

Black and white image of Borlaug holding a grain of wheat in a field.
Norman Borlaug

Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970, credited with preventing a billion deaths from starvation.

Black and white image of a farmer standing in front of new corn yields.
The work in Mexico paved the way for MAP techniques.

The work in Mexico paved the way for MAP techniques to move south to other countries like Colombia and, by the 1960s, into India and Southeast Asia.

Black and white image of four farmers cultivating rice.
Agriculture program in Colombia.

The agriculture program in Colombia was the RF’s first expansion after MAP. Colombia eventually became home to CIAT, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture – one of the four founding institutions of the CGIAR (Consultative Group for International Agriculture Research).

Rice field with cow and plow moving through the field with a large group of men to the right in front of large buildings.
International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)

Together, the RF and the Ford Foundation built the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines, another of the founding four CGIAR institutions. Opened in 1960, it is the site where variety IR-8, dubbed the “miracle rice,” was developed.

Black and white photo of U.S. President Lyndon Johnson with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos examining grains of rice.
U.S. President Lyndon Johnson (right) and Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (standing next to LBJ)

U.S. President Lyndon Johnson (right) visited IRRI in 1966 to see miracle rice for himself. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos (standing next to LBJ) used IR-8 to make his nation self-sufficient in rice production.

Watch: Mexican Agricultural Program, c.1950