IRMA was established in 1979 at Anand, Gujarat with the support of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), the Government of India, Government of Gujarat, the erstwhile Indian Dairy Corporation and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The rationale behind its installation had to do with providing management education, training, research and consultancy support to co-operatives and rural development organisations in India.
The genesis of IRMA is owed to Dr. Kurien's work with dairy co-operatives, which revolutionized the dairy industry in the country. It was founded with the belief that the key to effective rural development lies in professional management. Professionalising rural management involves synergising specific yet unmet needs of the rural sector with the formal techniques and skills of management professionals. Linking the two are the ‘rural managers' graduating from IRMA after undergoing a two-year diploma (PRM) programme in rural management.
Born out of a maverick's dream IRMA is, today, at the forefront of professionalising the development of India's rural sector. Over the years it has provided management training, support and research facilities to students committed to rural development drawing, in the process, co-operatives, non-government organisations, government development agencies, international development organisations, and funding agencies towards it.