IFDC Frequently Asked Questions

When was IFDC founded and for what purpose?

IFDC was established in 1974 during a world crisis of rapidly increasing oil, food and fertilizer prices. IFDC came about at the urging of U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. The initial purpose of IFDC was to help developing countries solve their food-deficit problems by focusing on the development of fertilizers and fertilizer practices to meet the special needs of tropical and subtropical climates and soils.

What exactly is the connection between IFDC and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA)?

IFDC can be considered an outgrowth of TVA’s National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC). Because of their work with fertilizers, it seemed that TVA/NFDC should play a role in the agriculture of developing countries. The program at TVA was referred to as the International Fertilizer Development program. In spite of international successes, it became increasingly clear that TVA, with its objective of developing technologies for the U.S. fertilizer industry, was very restricted in what it was allowed to do to assist developing countries in particular and the agricultural sector in general (as stipulated in its charter and by a Congressional act). Thus, a definitive need arose for an international center that could freely address the fertilizer technology needs of developing countries. This is why IFDC was created and why the Center is located on the TVA Reservation in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. In 1975 the international staff of TVA was transferred to IFDC to become the nucleus of the new organization. IFDC and TVA have been separate and different entities for many years – TVA is an agency of the U.S. government and IFDC is a non-profit, public international organization (PIO).

IFDC is known as a “public international organization (PIO).” What is a PIO?

In 1977 U.S. President Jimmy Carter, by an Executive Order, accorded IFDC the immunities and privileges of an international organization. (International Fertilizer Development Center, Ex. Ord. No. 11977, Mar. 14, 1977, 42 F.R. 14671.) As a PIO, IFDC is entitled to the privileges, exemptions and immunities conferred by the International Organizations Immunities Act. Other PIOs include the United Nations and the World Bank.

How is IFDC governed?

IFDC is governed by an international board of directors from both developed and developing countries.

View a list of IFDC board members and information about their backgrounds.

How is the work of IFDC funded?

The Center is funded by bilateral (e.g., U.S. Agency for International Development) and multilateral (e.g., African Development Bank) donors. Bilateral aid is aid from a donor to a recipient country, while multilateral aid is provided by a group of countries. Funding comes from public and private donors.

Where is IFDC headquartered?

The Center’s headquarters are located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, United States. IFDC has two divisions in Africa: the North and West Africa Division (NWAFD), headquartered in Lomé, Togo; and the East and Southern Africa Division (ESAFD), based in Nairobi, Kenya. The EurAsia Division, Research and Development Division and Training and Workshop Coordination Unit are located at the Muscle Shoals headquarters. IFDC also has a representative office in Washington, D.C.

What countries does IFDC work in?

IFDC operates worldwide and has conducted technology transfer activities in more than 130 countries in Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America and the former Soviet Union. IFDC has contributed to the development of human resources and institutional capacity building in over 150 countries through nearly 1,000 training programs. Currently, IFDC is carrying out activities in about 30 nations.

View a list of the nations in which IFDC is currently working.

What does IFDC do?

As a non-profit PIO, IFDC addresses critical issues such as international food security, the alleviation of global hunger and poverty, environmental protection and the promotion of economic development and self-sufficiency. IFDC conducts research and works to develop new crop nutrient products and improved agricultural management practices and transfers technology to smallholder farmers. Applied soil and nutrient dynamics research for greater productivity and improved soil fertility is one aspect of our work. We also facilitate the development of profitable value chains for smallholder farmers and nurture the development of competitive markets. We develop and utilize decision support systems to better manage agricultural resources through greater targeting of technologies. Training farmers and the private/public sector in agricultural technologies and business practices is an integral part of the work of IFDC.

Who are IFDC’s partners?

  • Smallholder farmers.
  • Agricultural research and development organizations in developing countries.
  • Private sector in agriculture – from input supply to processing to trading.
  • Regional organizations, such as Regional Economic Communities, and regional farmer and trade organizations.
  • Other International Agricultural Research Centers.
  • National and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Who works at IFDC?

IFDC has a full-time multidisciplinary international staff composed of chemical engineers, chemists, communications staff, economists, financial analysts, geographic information specialists, geologists, graphic artists, information technology specialists, librarians, marketing and credit specialists, project management specialists, sociologists, soil scientists and training experts.

What is the VFRC?

IFDC is the host organization for the Virtual Fertilizer Research Center (VFRC), a global research initiative to create the next generation of fertilizers and production technologies. IFDC created the VFRC as the most rapid, economical way to tap the world’s intellectual capacity to generate critically needed fertilizer research. The Center will partner with universities, public and private research laboratories and the global fertilizer and agribusiness industries to bring together the best scientific, business and government minds to create a research system producing more food with fewer wasted resources and a reduced environmental impact. Read more information about the VFRC.