How can a region at once be a commercial agricultural hub—with fertile lands—and yet also be home to a population suffering from extreme poverty and chronic malnutrition? This is the reality in Sikasso, in southern Mali, where rural poverty is the highest in the country (68%) and over a quarter of children 6 years of age and younger experience chronic malnutrition.
One reason for this so-called “Sikasso Paradox” is that production is largely dominated by cotton and low-nutrition cereals (including rice, millet, sorghum, and wheat) while agricultural sub-sectors, such as shea butter, mangoes, peanuts, cashews, and biofuels, remain largely untapped resources.
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the five-year Feed the Future Mali Sɛnɛ Yiriwa (“Prosperous Agriculture”) Southern Zone activity aims to transform production and market systems in Mali’s southern zone to raise incomes and improve the resilience of smallholder households through increased, sustainable production and consumption of nutritious foods.
Part of a broader effort to sustainably reduce hunger, malnutrition, and poverty, Sɛnɛ Yiriwa works closely with other donor-funded activities focused on the market systems that supply inputs and technology to farmers, in addition to linking them with markets in which to sell their products.