Farm Family Effects of Improved Sorghum Varieties in Mali: A Multivalued Treatment Approach

Melinda Smale, Amidou Assima, Alpha Kergna, Véronique Thériault, and Eva Weltzien. 2016. Farm Family Effects of Improved Sorghum Varieties in Mali: A Multivalued Treatment Approach. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 25. East Lansing: Michigan State University

Uptake of improved sorghum varieties in Mali has been limited, despite the economic importance of the crop and long-term investments in sorghum improvement. One reason why is that attaining yield advantages that are substantial enough for farmers to discern in their own fields is difficult in a harsh, heterogeneous growing environment. Release of the first sorghum hybrids developed in Mali, which were developed primarily from the local Guinea race using a participatory approach, has the potential to change this situation. Here, we explore the adoption of improved sorghum seed with an ordered logit model, differentiating between improved varieties and hybrids. We then apply a multivalued treatment effects model to measure impacts on farm families. We utilize primary data collected from 628 farm family enterprises in the Sudanian Savanna region of Mali.

Reflecting the fact that farm family enterprises both consume and sell their sorghum harvests, we consider effects on consumption outcomes as well as yield. We find that plot manager characteristics, in addition to household wealth and labor supply, are strongly and positively related to the improvement status of sorghum seed planted. The impact of hybrid use on yields is large and significant, positively affecting household dietary diversity and contributing to a greater share of the harvest sold. However, use of hybrids, as well as improved varieties, is associated with a shift toward consumption of other cereals. Findings support on-farm experimental evidence concerning yield advantages, and suggest that the use of well-adapted sorghum hybrids may contribute to crop commercialization by smallholders.


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