The Council for Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research (ATSAF) e.V. was founded in November 1989 as a working group of federal research institutes, university institutes and other research institutions related to tropical and subtropical agricultural research on the basis of an interministerial agreement between the BML, BMZ and BMFT. The members, limited to a maximum of 100, could be elected for a maximum of 2 to 3 years. ATSAF was registered on 16 January 1990 as a registered association in the Register of Associations of the Bonn District Court. The objectives were:

  • The promotion of agricultural research for sustainable, ecologically and socio-economically adapted agricultural and forestry development in the countries of the tropics and subtropics.
  • To strengthen the contribution of the Federal Republic of Germany and its research institutions in this field.
  • Strengthening the public's awareness of the problems of international agricultural research.

This resulted in the following main tasks:

  • Advising the Federal Government (BMZ, BMVEL, BMBF, etc.) on its membership of CGIAR and on the formulation, planning and implementation of scientific activities in the tropics and subtropics.
  • The promotion of increased participation of German agricultural research in international research centers.
  • The facilitation of research contacts and the coordination of research activities in the field of tropical and subtropical agricultural research.
  • To inform interested parties about current developments in the field of national and international agricultural research.

ATSAF e. V. maintained an office in Bonn and was under the leadership of an elected steering committee (seven members) consisting of representatives of research institutes and universities as well as representatives of the ministries. The management was carried out by two delegated scientific employees of the Federal Research Institutes (i.e. FAL). Up to 10 research assistants and the expertise of members were available to carry out the tasks.

The appointed members did not pay any membership fees. For the implementation of the tasks, project-related grants from the 3 ministries as well as third-party funds were available. The advisory tasks of the office and the involved members for the BMZ were carried out on the basis of a GTZ contract. ATSAF acted as GTZ contractor.

Following the termination of the interministerial agreement by the partner ministries, the association was restructured in 1997, with the termination of the office and the dismissal of all staff.

In 1998, the Association adopted new by-laws as an open and contributory "member association" for scientists with an interest in international research and development for food security, poverty reduction and sustainable use of natural resources.