It was founded in 1905 in Rome with the task to collect agricultural statistics and propose actions for national governments to safeguard the farmers’ interests. The delegates from forty countries taking part in the initiative, signed the founding convention on 7 January 1905. The result was the first international intergovernmental body to deal with agricultural issues at a global level. The Institute has worked until Second World War and was dissolved in 1946. Its assets and mandate were handed over to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The IIA had limited scope for action since article 9 of the Convention stipulated that the organization should exclusively collect and publish statistical, technical and economic information on agriculture and related issues, before bringing government attention to measures required to protect the interests of farmers and to help improve conditions for them. Although its mandate was limited, IIA promoted statistical cooperation between various countries and the standardization of criteria for research. In 1930 IIA organized the World Agricultural Census and coordinated the work of statistical institutes from many countries, collecting and publishing data on annual agricultural production and the number of farms in operation. The scientific IIA heritage on the agricultural development issues, were the main reason to transfer the FAO headquarters in Rome.

Editor: Giovanni AVERSA