Farmer Feedback Report: Input Use (Seeds, Fertilizers and Herbicides) on Sorghum and Maize…

Amidou Assima, Naman Keita, and Alpha Oumar Kergna. 2017. Farmer Feedback Report: Input Use (Seeds, Fertilizers and Herbicides) on Sorghum and Maize by
Family Farm Entreprises in the Sudanian Savanna of Mali. Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research Paper 39, English version. East Lansing: Michigan State University

To develop sound agricultural policies, policymakers need accurate empirical evidence on the conditions prevailing in the field that will help document the situation and the impact of ongoing programs through the use of data. Farmers who are testing new technologies and are the primary beneficiaries of agricultural subsidies are fundamental sources of information for policymakers. Most farm surveys require hours of preparation and implementation but their findings are not always communicated to respondents for validation purposes. We consider this a loss—since the experts who are the most qualified to validate these findings are the farmers themselves. Thus, farmers are not always given the opportunity to ask questions to researchers and assist in the interpretation of survey findings.

This report summarizes farmers’ reactions and observations shared at several feedback workshops following surveys conducted in their villages located in the Sudanian Savanna of Mali.

Through a research consortium involving MSU, ICRISAT, USAID, and IER, a baseline study was conducted in the Dioila, Kati, and Koutiala cercles. The study aimed at collecting reliable data on the intensification of sorghum production in Mali. Following a census of 2430 sorghum farmers (who also grow maize) conducted in 58 villages of the “cercles” included in this study, a sample of 628 family farm enterprises (EAF) was drawn to better understand farming practices related to input use (fertilizers and seeds). The findings of this research study can serve as scientific guidance to Government officials, technical and financial partners as well as donors in their decision-making. In the 2014-2016 period, data were collected and analyzed by a team comprising MSU and IER/Ecofil researchers. A report by Smale et al. (2015) summarizes the methodology used and some preliminary findings. Following the data collection and analysis phases, farmer feedback workshops were organized by MSU in partnership with IER/Ecofil to share some of the highlights with farmers in the study area. The objectives of these workshops were: 1) to ensure farmers’ ownership of the research findings; 2) to collect their feedback; and 3) to incorporate their expectations in our main messages to policymakers.

Following these farmer feedback workshops, representative men and women farmers who had participated also attended the policy workshop organized by the Bamako MSU office on November 17, 2016. The purpose of the policy workshop was to present the findings of Michigan State University’s in-depth studies conducted on herbicides, hybrid seeds of sorghum, and gender, generation and agricultural intensification.

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