In the interwar years agricultural education emerged as a pivotal issue in international debates about agricultural modernization and rural development. Against the backdrop of scientific and technological changes, reformers and experts viewed the professionalization of people working in agriculture as necessary for securing a viable rural economy whilst preserving its agricultural identity. International organizations and associations debated about practical versus theory-based education, the ruralization of the curriculum and the amount of knowledge that would be needed to create the modern farmer. As this article argues, the interwar international call for more widespread and systematic agricultural education catered for a variety of political, economic and social concerns. The article discusses international efforts to promote better agricultural education in the 1920s, the emergence of new organizations in the 1930s and how these efforts foreshadowed the rural development strategies of development agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organization after the Second World War.