Agricultural Research Impact Assessment: The Case of Maize Technology Adoption in Southern Mali

June 2, 1994 - <> and Bruno Henry de Frahan

IDWP 41. Duncan Boughton and Bruno Henry de Frahan. 1994. 95 pp. Agricultural Research Impact Assessment: The Case of Maize Technology Adoption in Southern Mali 

The Malian agricultural research service was established in 1961, and a rainfed cereal varietal
improvement program began in 1964. Historically maize has remained a very minor part of the
total research effort. Major emphasis has been on varietal selection, initially focussing on
linkages with French-operated research stations in West Africa, and more recently linkages with
regional and international centers/networks (CIMMYT, SAFGRAD, IITA). During the 1980s
there was also a strong emphasis on the development of maize-based intercropping technology
(in particular maize-late millet intercropping).

The initiative to promote improved maize was taken by the cotton parastatal, the Compagnie
Malienne pour le Développement des Textiles (CMDT), in response to chronic food deficits
during the mid-1970s. The CMDT promoted a sole maize package consisting of an improved
local variety, identified during the period of the colonial administration, and a set of husbandry
practices (time of planting, planting density, fertilization) based on research findings generated
in other West African countries (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire). Additional varieties
were released over time, including a streak-resistant variety from IITA.

Adoption of the improved maize package was particularly rapid during the period
1980-86 when an attractive guaranteed price was offered and extension activities were
reinforced by a maize project that included the establishment of a seed multiplication program.
Following cereal market price liberalization in 1986, maize prices fell and have been subject to
considerable variability. Area has continued to expand, but farmers have greatly reduced
fertilizer use, switched back to maize-late millet intercropping, and substituted early maturing
varieties better suited to their own food security needs.

The estimated internal rate of return (IRR) to investment in maize research and extension in
southern Mali over the period 1969-90 is 135%. This high rate can be attributed to low research
costs (much of the technical package was borrowed from research conducted elsewhere in West
Africa), and the high economic value of maize as an import substitute. Sensitivity analysis
indicates that the IRR is robust with respect to adverse changes in assumptions concerning
overvaluation of the exchange rate, research costs, extension costs, and area of improved maize.
It is moderately sensitive to price and yield reductions.

The high IRR achieved in the past to a focussed, integrated maize technology delivery system is
not necessarily a guide to future returns. Market opportunities beyond assuring food security
during the "hungry season" are limited due to the lack of low-cost processing technologies.


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