Green Revolution on Dryland: The Rockefeller Foundation and the Turkish Wheat and Training Project, 1970-1982

by Taylor C. Zajicek

Oct 13, 2019

This report introduces the Turkish Wheat and Training Project, one of the Rockefeller Foundation's flagship agricultural programs in the Near East, and a relatively unstudied player in Turkey's "green revolution." From 1970 to 1982, the Ankara-based, multinational staff collected plant samples from around the world, experimented with high-yielding varieties of (mostly) winter wheat, facilitated Turkish scientists' education abroad, and advocated for wheat's centrality to the Turkish economy. While grafted from the green revolution's most emblematic institution—the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)—the Turkish Wheat Project had roots in two deeper processes: the concept that Turkey was not living up to its agricultural potential and Ankara's engagement with US aid and expertise. After sketching these themes with sources from the Rockefeller Archive Center, this report narrates the wheat project's origins, participants, activities, and shortcomings. While the project's role as an engine of Turkey's agricultural "modernization" was—and remains—difficult to assess, its archive, situated at a confluence of institutions and epistemologies, is a valuable source for approaching the histories of Turkish agriculture, the green revolution, and the Cold War.

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