Strengthening Market Systems Resilience to Crises in Mali’s Southern Zone
Mali’s agriculture sector offers a path to increased economic growth and resilience as challenges like food insecurity and regional conflict continue to disrupt local communities and markets. To combat these shocks and stressors, the Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa Activity, implemented by a consortium led by CNFA with MALIMARK and Helen Keller International, is working with local producers, processors and traders to sustainably improve household incomes and nutrition across 46 communes in the Bougouni, Koutiala and Sikasso regions.
Introducing locally driven approaches to address market needs and constraints
At the startup of the activity in 2021, Sugu Yiriwa analyzed the agricultural market landscape of Mali’s Southern Zone to understand its opportunities and constraints with the aim of designing interventions that transform informal and fragmented markets into vibrant, organized and inclusive commercial hubs. After evaluating the landscape’s key findings, Sugu Yiriwa undertook activities focused on improving access to affordable, quality inputs and services, strengthening commercial linkages between buyers and sellers and increasing market demand for nutritious, healthy foods.
Achieving systems-level impact and supporting producers to succeed
In the two years since its inception, the activity facilitated access to regional, national and international markets for more than 17,900 producers, processing units, agrodealers, aggregators and traders, enabling them to grow their activities, boost their incomes and increase their competitiveness.
The numerous initiatives carried out by the activity, including training sessions and market fairs, on topics related to the production, conservation, processing and marketing of agricultural products have already strengthened the businesses of more than 8,000 entrepreneurs. They have also enabled 6,100 individuals to undertake new income-generating activities using their own resources, further supporting the development and sustainability of local market systems and contributing to the economic potential of the agriculture sector. Additionally, among other things, these activities have enhanced producers’ purchasing power and improved the year-round availability of safe, nutritious products in local markets, benefitting women and children who previously lacked access to an affordable supply of healthy foods.
As part of its strategy to open new national and regional markets to female processors across the Southern Zone of Mali, Sugu Yiriwa supported entrepreneurs to take part in regional trade events, such as the 22nd edition of the International Fair of Agriculture and Animal Resources (FIARA) held in Dakar, Senegal, in May 2022 and the International Fair for Women’s Empowerment and Innovation (SAPAIF) held in Côte d’Ivoire in August 2022. Each of these fairs brought together more than 300 exhibitors and over 5,000 visitors per day from 15 African countries, enabling each of the women supported by the activity to build credibility for their businesses, both in and out of Mali, and to create new partnerships with agricultural buyers, thus expanding their sales. Two of the women also received awards at these events, including Elisabeth Diarra, who won an award for best processor, and Dialia Keita, who received the award for best business leader.
Providing emergency response to support household resilience in the face of crisis
The war in Ukraine has impacted the country’s most vulnerable groups, with shortages of commodities and increased prices on food, fuel and fertilizer.
Sugu Yiriwa’s interventions have directly contributed to combatting these insecurities, supporting over 60,000 people to reduce their dependence on fertilizer imports by increasing their access to and knowledge of local compost fertilizers. Additionally, the activity’s emergency interventions, such as providing training and distributing agricultural production kits, have helped women and youth in the Southern Zone to establish over 12,000 income-generating activities, strengthening their independence and resilience in the face of ongoing economic and environmental shocks and promoting inclusive and sustainable development for vulnerable market actors.
Involving communities in the planning and implementation of interventions
Sugu Yiriwa prioritizes the inclusion of marginalized groups and communities during the planning and implementation of its interventions to facilitate sustainable economic growth that tackles the underlying causes of poverty and malnutrition. In each of the 168 villages targeted by its interventions, in coordination with the village community, the activity identified representatives — one male and one female — to act as focal points or “relays.” These relays participated in several training courses and now play a key role in promoting the inclusion of marginalized groups while disseminating agricultural best practices to all. With support from community relays, the activity helps entrepreneurs access credit and strengthen or develop their agribusinesses, ensuring they are able to participate in commercial markets and meet the credit requirements of financial institutions.
The Mali Sugu Yiriwa activity is a successful example of how development interventions can strengthen market systems and community resilience by designing and implementing development activities based on the needs and constraints of local market players. Overall, the activity has improved community development and access to critical commercial markets, boosted productivity and strengthened incomes and nutrition for local agricultural stakeholders, even in the face of shocks and crisis-related emergencies.