Gender, generation and cereal crop intensification in Mali

In Mali, stagnating yields of dryland cereals—excepting maize—are often attributed to limited use of fertilizer and declining land quality. In the Sudanian Savanna of Mali, as elsewhere in the West African Sahel, dryland cereals are grown on fields managed collectively and individually by extended families that span multiple generations and several households, headed by a responsible elder. The roles of women and youth in farm production are changing. We contribute to the empirical literature on agricultural intensification in this region by exploring intrahousehold differences in fertilizer use. We test differences by: 1) plot management type (collective, individual); 2) gender of plot manager given plot management type; and 3) and plot manager status in the family (youth, relationship to head). We compare findings between major cereal crops (maize, sorghum). Fertilizer use is greater on individually managed plots, which is explained primarily by use on sorghum fields allocated to women, which are very small, frequently intercropped with groundnuts, and serve as “food security” reserves. Use rates in maize production are lower on individual plots managed by men who are not household heads. Further, use is lower on plots managed by youth under 25 years of age (specifically, maize plots) and sons (in particular, sorghum plots). On sorghum plots, wives of the head have higher intensity of fertilizer use on sorghum plots than other managers. Findings have implications for the design of extension programs to support inclusion of women and younger generations in the intensification of dryland cereals production.

Gouse, M., Sengupta, D., Zambrano, P., & Zepeda, J. F. (2016). Genetically Modified Maize: Less Drudgery for Her, More Maize for Him? Evidence from Smallholder Maize Farmers in South Africa. World Development, 83, 27-38. doi:
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