Beyond grain: the potential of cowpea in local markets of Mali

September 5, 2022 - Mamadou Sissoko, Veronique Theriault, <>

Sissoko, M., Theriault, V., & Smale, M. (2022). Beyond grain: the potential of cowpea in local markets of Mali. Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies.



The authors assess the development potential of cowpea beyond grain in local markets in Mali by: (1) identifying trader types and types of cowpea products sold; (2) examining trader roles; (3) estimating gross margins and their determinants; and (4) discussing policy opportunities to further develop the value chain.


The authors analyze data collected through observation and semi-structured questionnaires from 487 sellers in 26 markets, including market, seller, and product characteristics. The authors also calculate gross margins and conduct a regression analysis to identify influential factors.


The authors identify several types of cowpea sellers in local markets, including processor-retailers, retailers of fresh leaves and fodder, and grain retailers, collectors and wholesalers. Women dominate the marketing of processed products and fresh leaves. The marketing of boiled cowpeas offers retailers higher margin rates compared to fritters and pancakes. Grain sellers, who are mostly men, have lower margins but sell larger quantities. Processor-retailers bring more value to the cowpea value chain. Specialization of the seller in cowpea, regional location of the market and day of the market fair all influence gross margins.

Research limitations/implications

Future work should explore consumer preferences for different types of cowpea products.


This study of the cowpea value chain in Mali has revealed the multidimensional character of the cowpea plant, which goes far beyond its grain and highlight the important roles played by women.



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