Analysis of the Economic Impact of Sorghum and Millet Research in Mali uri icon


  • Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) and pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) are very impor tant to theeconomy and people of Mali. But, their productivity is low given the reliance on traditional, low-inputproduction practices. The Institut d'Economie Rurale (IER) was started soon after the country's independenceto find ways of improving the productivity of food crops in collaboration with regional and internationalagricultural research institutes (e.g., IRAT, ICRISAT, CIRAD-CA) . A numbe r of improved seed-basedsorghum and millet technologies have since been developed and diffused. They were developed from twoapproaches: (1) selection within local germplasm, which consisted of collecting, testing, purifying, and supplyingfarmers with readily available materials. These are identified as Generation 1 materials; and (2) plant breeding,which consisted of crossing with exotic germplasm, and pedigree selection. Outputs of this second approach areidentified as Generation 2 materials. This study evaluates the returns to sorghum and pearl millet researchinvestments in Mali by combining farm-level survey information from 1990 to 1995 with that from research andextension in an economic surplus framework. The results indicate that by 1995, 30% of the sorghum and 3 7%of the millet areas were sown to improved varieties. Th e estimated benefits from research and extension effortsrange from US$ 16 million (for sorghum) to US$ 25 million (for pearl millet). These represent internal rates ofreturns of 69% and 50%, respectively. A disaggregated analysis indicates higher yield gains and higher returnsto Generation 2 materials than to Generation 1 materials for bot h sorghum and pearl millet. Unit costs were alsomuch lower for Generation 2 materials. The major constraints cited by farmers as limiting their ability to adoptimproved materials include lack of information, lack of improved seeds, and low soil fertility. The study concludesthat the breeding philosophy should be diversified to respond to the need of the changing socioeconomicenvironment with the recent devaluation of the CFA. It also recommends that efforts be made to improve theeconomic farming environment to enable farmers to adopt mor e productive agricultural technologies which arenecessary for rural poverty alleviation and improvement in national food security

publication date

  • 2000