Mali: The SARD-SC Wheat project and its local partner the Institute of Rural Agriculture, with support from the African Development Bank, AfDB are working in wheat seed production in Mali to ensure that improved varieties are availed to farmers in the shortest time possible. Through this support, the country has planted 31 ha of improved wheat seeds for the 2016 season in collaboration with farmers in the Office du Niger and Northern Region. The seeds were supplied from Nigeria through ICARDA. Further the institute conducted regional practical courses on seed systems, variety maintenance and quality seed production targeting researchers, extension officers and farmers. Currently SARD-SC Wheat is conducting genetic improvements, variety maintenance, identification and selection of the best bread wheat varieties trials and verification in the Dire, Segou and Kongoni regions. It has further conducted on farm demonstrations and promotions to popularize the three wheat bread varieties (GOUMRIA-3, NORMAN and REYNA 28) currently under consideration. Towards this end, the project and its partners organized a field day on the 17th March 2016 at the N’Debougou village, in the zone Office du Niger, Segou Region. The purpose of this field day was to popularize wheat growing in Mali and to bring together stakeholders in the wheat value chain. The field day was attended by the Governor of Segou Mr. George Togo, deputy of the National Assembly, Hon. Drissa Namogo the Director General of research Dr. Bourema Dembele and the Ministerial Advisor representing the Minister. Also in attendance were research stations, learning institutions, the private sector, farmers, non-governmental organizations and the country’s ministry of Agriculture as well as the media. Speaking during the field day, the Governor of Segou Region Mr. George Togo said that with two major high potential areas, Office du Niger and the Niger River, the government is trying to create a conducive environment for growing wheat by increasing access to and lowering cost of getting water to the farms. The ministerial advisor and Director General Dr. Bourema Dembele, while officially opening the field day encouraged all farmers in the dry areas to grow wheat, in order to have food security for themselves and the country at large. The field day ended with a discussions session and meeting with the wheat farmers in the locality.
Wheat in Mali
Access to inputs and seeds that could make wheat production profitable to farmers remains a major challenge to many African countries including Mali. Wheat production in the country has increased from 40,000 tons in 2012 to 44,000 tons in 2014 on just about 10,000 ha, barely producing a tenth of the country’s annual consumption of 335,000 tons. The country however has great potential of growing wheat in the coming few years with an area of around 405,000 ha, covering both the irrigated lands in the Office du Niger region, i.e. Segou, Gao, Timbuktu and Kayes (340,000 ha) as well as “decrue” (water-receding land) regions in Timbuktu and Kayes (65,000 ha). Currently there exist favorable policies and farmer empowering pro-wheat growing initiatives including government-subsidized seed and fertilizers and an emergency initiative, the West Africa Agricultural Program and Productivity (WAAPP) in the northern regions of Mali.