Dr. Henry Kissinger, former U.S. Secretary of State who spearheaded the creation of IFDC, passed away on November 29, 2023, at the age of 100. In this moment of remembrance, IFDC reflects on Dr. Kissinger’s legacy in the area of food security and his role in the creation of the organization.
In the fall of 1973, as the world was facing a food crisis and economic uncertainties, Dr. Kissinger delivered an impactful message to the United Nations General Assembly, addressing urgent global challenges in rising food prices and hunger in developing nations. He called the Assembly to arms to combine technology and knowledge to “increase agricultural productivity in all the lands.”
The following year, on April 15, 1974, again before the General Assembly of the United Nations, Dr. Kissinger “urge[d] the establishment of an international fertilizer institute as part of a larger effort to international action on two specific areas of research: improving the effectiveness of chemical fertilizers, especially in tropical agriculture, and new methods to produce fertilizers from non-petroleum resources.” This institute was to spread the knowledge generated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) National Fertilizer Development Center (NFDC), located in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to the rest of the world.
With lightning response to the crisis at hand, Dr. Kissinger, along with other visionaries, including IFDC’s first Managing Director, Donald McCune, and former USAID Administrator and Deputy Secretary General of the World Food Conference, John Hannah, shepherded the organization from idea to reality. By October 1974, papers were filed in Birmingham, Alabama, for the incorporation of a new nonprofit organization called the International Fertilizer Development Center.
On the brink of its 50th anniversary, IFDC reflects on the profound impact of a leader whose call to address the global food crisis became a catalyst for transformative action. Today, as we navigate the world of sustainable agriculture, we do so with gratitude for the foresight and dedication of Dr. Kissinger, who not only understood the significant challenges the world was facing regarding food security, but also acted on them.
Along with Henry Kissinger’s friends and family, we remember and honor the contributions of a leader who shaped the course of international development and inspired the creation of IFDC.