Better seeds and best practices enhance incomes for smallholder farmers in Mali
Farmers in Mali are improving their incomes , earning better livelihoods and enjoying more fulfilling lives through interventions that provide improved varieties of sorghum as well as training in good agriculture practices. Particularly encouraging are the case studies of two farmers from Djirikorola, Mali, who are leading the way in adoption of improved seeds and post-harvest technologies.
In 2014, farmer Bourama Bougodogo of Djirikorola village of Sikasso region in Mali, joined a Farmer Field School (FFS) under the project Africa RISING’s large-scale Diffusion of Technologies for Sorghum and Millet Systems (ARDT_SMS). He and other farmer trainees from his village learnt integrated Striga and soil fertility management, intercropping (cereal + legumes) and other techniques previously unknown to them.
Mr Bourama produced the very popular improved sorghum variety Tiandougou coura on his plot, which gave him a spectacular harvest of about 3 tons tons/ha. whereas earlier he could barely harvest 1 ton/ha. “With the revenue earned from the sales, I bought a thresher, which I now rent out to other seed producers in 20 surrounding villages,” he says. “As they often pay me in kind, I earned 45 bags of rice in 15 working days in 2018, and about 2,150,000 FCFA (US$ 3540) with the thresher rental service. This money helped him build a new house for his family. In 2018, Bourama also acquired a huller.
This success was repeated in 2018, when he harvested 4.2 tons over 2 hectares of the same variety, against 2 tons on the same area cultivated with the local variety Soumale.
Bourama is so happy with his success that he now encourages others in his community to become seed producers. “Earlier, there was no seed producer in our area. Following the training, we acquired the knowledge and experience to produce our own seeds.”
The ARDT_SMS project has also enabled the seed producers to obtain certification for their seeds.
“This certificate provides proof that these seeds were produced while following the standards in the Republic of Mali, and can be sold on the market without any quality problem,” says farmer Abdrahamane Bougodogo.
Abdrahamane has grown Tiandougou coura, Pablo and Soubatimi varieties of sorghum successfully, earning handsome returns on his investment. In 2017, he paid his children’s school fees without taking out a loan. “I’ve also helped my brother with the cost of building his house; he’s no longer a tenant but a home owner in Sikasso,” he relates proudly.
Abdrahamane also used part of the revenues from the sale of certified sorghum seeds to invest in a soybean grain trade. He buys soybean from farmers and sells to a processing company that also produces ‘Soumbala’, a soybean spice-based product very popular in the recipes of many sauces. In 2018, he earned a profit of 255,000 FCFA (US$ 419) with this enterprise.
“Of all the varieties tested in our FFS group, the Tiandougou coura variety is my favorite, followed by Soubatimi. These varieties not only have better yields compared to the local and other improved varieties, but also their grains are very attractive,” Abdrahamane says. “One day about 200 people visited my field and placed an order for all the produce even before harvest, because these varieties are really attractive and clean. Customers appreciate that a lot.”
Bourama and Abdrahamane have become well-known ambassadors of these two varieties in their region. They are a real source of motivation and inspiration among other producers because of their courage in applying good agronomic practices and the use of improved varieties. The increase in their profits as well as other achievements such as construction of their house, purchase of thresher and huller, etc. have convinced many other farmer/producers to adopt new technologies for sorghum and cowpea production.
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Also click here to read an interesting story on Mali farmers’ success with improved varieties that helped them send their children to school!
About the Author:
Head Regional Information
ICRISAT-West and Central Africa