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Mali: ASTI–IER Country Factsheet

Mali: ASTI–IER Country Factsheet

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Léa Vicky Magne Domgho, Ouleymatou Traoré, and Gert-Jan Stads


International Food Policy Research Institute and Institute of Rural Economics

Publication category

Africa south of the Sahara

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Strong donor dependency

Agricultural research in Mali is among the most donordependent in Africa. Strong reliance on short-term projects funded by donors and development banks, combined with modest levels of public funding, have driven significant fluctuations in agricultural research spending over time. Events like the 2012 military coup and unrest in the country’s north—which prompted a temporary freeze on aid—highlight the country’s vulnerability to funding shocks and, hence, its need to diversify its sources of agricultural research funding.

Severe underinvestment

In 2000, Mali invested 1 percent of its AgGDP in agricultural research, the minimum recommended by the United Nations and the African Union, but by 2014 spending had fallen to just 0.38 percent of AgGDP. Increased government funding is needed, not only to cover the cost of salaries, but also to allow sufficient funding for the day-to-day running of research programs, as well as necessary investments in infrastructure. Creative mechanisms should be explored to stimulate private-sector research funding beyond the cotton industry.

Aging pool of researchers

With 87 percent of its PhD-qualified researchers in their 50s and 60s, Mali has one of the oldest pools of agricultural researchers in Africa. As a result, large-scale capacity losses are imminent due to retirement. WAAPP has supported significant training of young researchers in recent years. However, more recruitment and training is needed, as are mechanisms to motivate and maintain staff over time.

Low female participation

Women constitute the majority of Mali’s farmers, yet only 15 percent of the country’s agricultural researchers are female. Since women offer different insights and perspectives to address the unique and pressing challenges of Mali’s farmers, it is important that the country focus on improving the gender balance—both among its agricultural researchers and its research managers—in order to more effectively address the breadth of priorities and challenges facing its farmers.