Manuel Avila Camacho

Date: 1943
Owner: Google Images
Source Type: Images


Manuel Avila Camacho was president of Mexico during the earliest years of the Green Revolution, the blanket term for genetic and technical advances in agriculture that began with the Rockefeller Foundation's involvement in Mexico in 1943. Camacho was among the many Mexican political leaders and agricultural scientists who considered modernizing and improving agriculture as a necessary step to bolstering the economy and solving the perennial problem of food shortage. Furthermore, Mexico's agricultural science professionals had been losing prestige in the eyes of the populace, especially farmers, who were beginning to think these experts incapable of keeping Mexico fed. Thus Camacho and the agricultural scientists were eager to cooperate with the RF in the Mexican Agricultural Project (MAP), the most successful of several attempts by Mexican politicians and specialists to gain the assistance of agricultural experts from the United States.

The U.S. farming methods advocated by the MAP did not always fit with Mexican realities, especially regarding small maize farms, but it did accomplish the goals of the politicians and scientists who promoted it. The advanced techniques and improved yields (most notably in wheat) bolstered the prestige of the scientific community, as did the RF's fellowships for Mexican agriculturalists to attend graduate schools in the U.S. For Camacho and other political leaders, the MAP eased the public criticism that the government was not doing anything to increase food production or improve the agricultural sector in general. When viewed from the perspective of the Mexicans who first promoted it, the MAP was a success.

Reference: Cotter, Joseph. "The Rockefeller Foundation's Mexican Agricultural Project: A Cross-Cultural Encounter." In Marcos Cueto, ed., Missionaries of Science: The Rockefeller Foundation and Latin America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

CITATION: "TIME cover 04-19-1943 ill. of Manuel Avila Camacho." Photographer: Ernest Hamlin Baker. Courtesy of Google Images.