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Abstract

In most developing countries, historically, the main strategy for improving the food sector has focused on increasing farm-level production. But in recent years, with the emphasis on value chain analysis, there has been much more focus on subsector studies, demand-driven approaches, and improving vertical coordination to assure product quality to final consumption markets. Millet, sorghum, and later rice were the traditional leading three cereal crops produced and consumed in Mali. Maize has trailed them for more than two decades, but from mid 1990s on, it has been produced and consumed in much larger quantities. Given the potentials of maize, developing and better organizing its subsector has the potential to not only increase revenues for maize farmers, but also create profitable opportunities for other actors in the subsector (traders, marketers, processors, industries, and consumers). This paper seeks to provide a description of the changing supply and demand dynamics for maize in Mali, the organization of the marketing channels and players, and the characteristics of the main consumption markets. The main conceptual tools to be used are subsector analysis and the structure-conduct-performance (SCP) approach. The paper will draw on literature reviews, the author’s personal interviews with value chain participants, and tabular and graphical analysis of production and price data to address the reasons behind the changes in production and demand, how the demand is likely to evolve, how the structure of the subsector might be affected, and what will be the implications for public sector investments and policies.

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