Improving the Quality of Women’s Gold in Mali, West Africa: The Case of Shea

The collection, primary processing, and subsequent sale of shea-based products make an important contribution to rural women’s cash income in many of Mali’s shea producing areas. Internationally, shea has recently become popular in high-valued cosmetics thanks to its therapeutic properties— a deviation away from its historic use as a cheap cocoa-butter substitute. For these reasons, international development actors have targeted the Malian shea value chain as part of their private-sector-development and rural-poverty-alleviation programs and strategies. Information asymmetry in the production and marketing of shea has led to a “Market for Lemons” scenario much like that described by Akerlof (1970), thereby compromising the subsector’s potential to serve as a powerful source of rural income growth and poverty alleviation. A combination of tools is used to describe the Malian shea value chain, including the “Structure, Conduct, Performance” framework borrowed from the industrial organization literature and the “Subsector Studies” approach popular in current export-led international development strategies. Analogies from subsectors historically plagued by adverse selection and moral hazard are used to identify potential leverage points and intervention strategies for stakeholders to help improve shea quality and returns to primary producers. The analysis suggests the Malian government has the potential to play an important role in this process as a coordinating body and channel captain, with donors and private enterprises playing complementary roles.

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Thesis/ Dissertation
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JEL Codes:
Q13; Q23; L15; L24; 013; O17
Series Statement:
Dept. of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics>Graduate Research Master's Degree Plan B Papers

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-22

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