Food Security and Employment under a Changing Climate in Mali: What Are the Options?

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In 2016, around 2.5 million people were considered food-insecure: almost 15% of the population. Mali has rather distinct agricultural production systems that collectively can ensure food self-sufficiency. A healthy but still moderate food supply for all in 2050 and 2100 would require food availability to increase about 3- fold and 6-fold respectively, compared to 2015. It is not impossible to achieve this in a sustainable manner by a combination of the following options:  Rainfed agriculture can suffice to provide the population with a moderate diet up to 2100 (in particular maize, millet and sorghum). Water use efficiency can be dramatically increased through a comprehensive agronomic package of measures.  Rice and irrigated cultivation can still be considerably enhanced, in particular by investing in water use efficiency and other improved practices. Irrigated rice remains a water-inefficient system, competing with more efficient agricultural water uses.  The Inner Niger Delta in particular produces large amounts of irrigated rice, meat and fish. More large scale irrigation here may go at the expense of current water-based livelihoods, although some optimization is possible. A reliable estimate of the total potential of this area requires a more comprehensive assessment. Large-scale irrigated rice creates relatively less employment.  Improving livestock cultivation is still possible, but highly depends on innovations in fodder supply. Fish production can increase by means of aquaculture.  Cash crops and trade still have considerable growth potential, not so much for the already important cotton, but much more for exotic products; the potential could not be assessed in this study. With current IPCC scenarios, the potential described above can still be realized, albeit at higher investment cost for additional adaptation measures. Sound knowledge and farm management and collective infrastructure management become more critical. Realizing the potential food production is the most realistic option to increase livelihoods and employment in Mali. Employment will be created in the primary production, but in particular along the value chain, such as in the input sector for service providers and agro-dealers and in food processing industries. Private and public actors together may give priority to value chains that give them most return-on-investment, as well as contribute most to sustainable development.
Irrigation Systems, Livestock production, Agricultural productivity, Food security
Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment (NCEA). 2017. “Food Security and Employment under a Changing Climate in Mali: What Are the Options?” Advisory Report 7227, P.S. Bindraban and J.J.R. Groot (Eds.), Sustainability Advice Programme, NCEA, The Netherlands, http://