Causes and Consequences of Increasing Herbicide Use in Mali

Steven Haggblade, Melinda Smale, Alpha Kergna, Veronique Thériault and Amidou Assima. 2016. Causes and Consequences of Increasing Herbicide Use in Mali. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 24. East Lansing: Michigan State University


This paper examines the origins and impact of rapid recent growth of herbicide use in Mali. Primary data come from interviews with herbicide importers and distributors in major markets across Mali and from a 2014/15 survey of 700 farm households in Mali’s Sudanian Savanna zone. Results suggest that a series of major supply-side innovations are driving growth in Mali’s herbicide markets, most conspicuously a proliferation in the number of herbicide brands marketed, a shift to low-cost suppliers in China and India, and consequently falling herbicide prices. At the farm level, herbicides cost on average 50% less than hiring weeding labor.

Despite low econometric estimates of damage abatement, herbicide adoption rates reach 25% in remote rural zones and 75% in more accessible rural areas. Key factors affecting adoption include spatial variation in herbicide prices and rural wage rates. At current rates, herbicide usage reduces peak season rural labor demand by 20%.

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