Economics of Increasing Sorghum Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Mali Case
Sorghum retains a crucial role in Sub-Saharan Africa for food and in the future feed. Unfortunately, the movement of sorghum technology onto farmers’ fields in Sub-Saharan Africa has been slow in spite of substantial research since the great African drought of 1968–1973. What is necessary to get African sorghum yields and profitability up?
After reviewing the situation of sorghum in the world, the USA, and Sub-Saharan Africa from 2007 to 2017 the results and the lessons of a twelve-year program in the Sahel of West Africa to introduce new sorghum technology and marketing strategies are the focus of the rest of the paper. In Mali, the program identified new technologies that were extended into a large number of farmers’ associations. The Mali program then collaborated with two other agencies to scale up this pilot program. The pilot project demonstrated that yields with moderate fertilization, new varieties, and improved agronomic practices could be increased 50 to 100% and prices increased 30 to 50%. The 2012 military coup and then invasion of Al Queda from the north shut down both the pilot and the scaling up activities as the US government banned collaboration with Malian government agencies after the coup. The pilots were continued in Niger and Burkina Faso through 2014 and then with a Gates Foundation grant from 2014 to 2016. The pilot program in Mali responded to two of the three Second Generation problems identified. But more significantly the pilot project identified the lack of funds for responding to Second Generation problems as a major constraint for implementing a technology-marketing program in a low-income country.
Key wordsSemi-arid Sahel Ethanol Yield gap Lodging Farmers’association “Soudure” Processors Kiosks Grinkan “Tô” Tannin Anaerobic
Amanda Fuller found and organized the data reviewing sorghum production by region. Jean Harmon helped focus the concern of USAID and the Malian government on the importance of raising productivity of sorghum and millet. INTSORMIL, USAID-Washington, USAID-Mali, the McKnight Foundation and the Gates Foundation supported various phases of the fieldwork and research. John Yohe of INTSORMIL supported us over the entire period.
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