The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was founded in 1967 with a mandate for improving food production in the humid tropics and to develop sustainable production systems. It became the first African link in the worldwide network of agricultural research centers supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

IITA is governed by an international board of trustees and is staffed by scientists and other professionals from over 30 countries, and approximately 1300 support staff. Staff are located at the lbadan campus, and also at stations in other parts of Nigeria, and in Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. Others are located at work sites in several countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

IITA`s mission is to enhance the food security, income, and well-being of resource-poor people in sub-Saharan Africa by conducting research and related activities to increase agricultural production, improve food systems, and sustainably manage natural resources, in partnership with national and international stakeholders.

IITA conducts research, germplasm conservation, training, and information exchange activities in partnership with regional bodies and national programs including universities, NGOs, and the private sector. The research agenda addresses crop improvement, plant health, and resource and crop management within a food systems framework, targeted at the identified needs of four major agroecological zones: the dry savanna, the moist savanna, the humid forests, and the midaltitude savanna. Research focuses on smallholder cropping and postharvest systems and on the following food crops such as cassava, cowpea, maize, plantain and banana, soybean, and yam.