AFPRO was established in 1966 by Christian development organizations in response to the Bihar-Uttar Pradesh-Maharashtra drought, as a non-governmental organization that would provide technical support for development and rehabilitation work. In 1967, it was registered under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860. Originally set up as an action committee which adopted the name “Action for Food Production”, it was eventually established as a “Joint Service Organization in India for coordination, support and technical guidance of food production projects of church related and voluntary agencies”.

Indian Social Institute (ISI), Churches Auxiliary for Social Action (CASA), Indo- Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), CARITAS-India, Catholic Relief Services, OXFAM, YMCA and YWCA were among the main organizations that set up AFPRO.

Initially the new organization’s concentrated on developing groundwater to augment food production. Subsequently, it shifted its focus from merely providing sources of groundwater to educating and capacitating people for its proper utilization, conjunctive use of water, and other water conservation practices. This included the adoption of the watershed development approach and an integrated approach to rural development.

AFPRO today provides socio-technical support for ensuring food security and developing livelihoods through proper natural resource management, continuing its unique focus on the development and management of water resources. It reaches out to poor and marginalized communities throughout India, particularly small and marginal farmers, landless, tribals, and others having urgent needs.