The Institute of Tropical Agriculture (ITA) was established in 2007 when Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) restructured the various Institutes/Centers/Academies, as a proactive approach and integrated effort to strengthen UPM status as a Research University and become the Center of Excellence in Agriculture in Malaysia.
In line with UPM’s mission to have an efficient and effective administrative structure, the University has organized research activities into six clusters: Agriculture, Food, Forestry and Environment, Health, Social Science, and Engineering and Technology Science, where efforts in knowledge creation and transfer of technology can be conducted through research closely related to the thrust areas in each cluster.
Hence, each cluster is complemented with relevant research thrusts as a guide for more focused and robust research activities. The Agricultural Cluster encompasses eight research thrusts in line with the government's emphasis on agricultural development and progress agenda in the country. Three of the eight identified research thrusts i.e, Food Crops, Plantation Crops and Animal Production are the thrust areas entrusted to ITA.
On December 1, 2016, ITA has been rebranded as the Institute for Tropical Agriculture and Food Security (ITAFoS) to strengthen the role and contribution of UPM in spearheading initiatives to improve food security within the country. In this regard, three laboratories were restructured to organise strategies in assisting the Malaysian agricultural sector to produce quality, adequate and safe food and manage efficiently for long-term and sustainable productivity. The three laboratories are Laboratory of Climate-Smart Food Crop Production, Laboratory of Sustainable Animal Production and Biodiversity; and Laboratory of Food Safety and Food Integrity.