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The Sahel's Silent Maize Revolution: Analyzing Maize Productivity in Mali at the Farm-level

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  • Jeremy D. Foltz
  • Ursula T. Aldana
  • Paul Laris
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    Abstract

    Since independence a quiet revolution has taken place in maize production in the Sahel with Mali increasing production more than ten-fold and yields going up ~2% a year. This research work uses farm level panel data from southern Mali's maize growing regions to demonstrate this success in agricultural production and technological change. We analyze the determinants of production to unpack increases in input use from technological change. The estimations show that farmer adoption of increased fertilizer use has driven much of the productivity growth rather than the adoption of improvements in seeds and management. Additionally, we find strong evidence of observed and unobserved heterogeneity, which affects both the choice of fertilizer amounts and the marginal returns to fertilizer use. The results demonstrate the key changes behind this silent maize revolution and point to the importance of taking into account farmer heterogeneity in estimating productivity and returns to fertilizer.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17801.

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    Date of creation: Feb 2012
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    Publication status: Forthcoming: The Sahel’s Silent Maize Revolution: Analyzing Maize Productivity in Mali at the Farm level , Jeremy Foltz, Ursula Aldana, Paul Laris. in African Successes: Sustainable Growth , Edwards, Johnson, and Weil. 2014
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17801

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    1. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2008. "How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 482-88, May.
    2. Benjamin, Dwayne, 1995. "Can unobserved land quality explain the inverse productivity relationship?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 51-84, February.
    3. Paswel P. Marenya & Christopher B. Barrett, 2009. "Soil quality and fertilizer use rates among smallholder farmers in western Kenya," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(5), pages 561-572, 09.
    4. Smale, Melinda & Byerlee, Derek & Jayne, Thom, 2011. "Maize revolutions in Sub-Saharan Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5659, The World Bank.
    5. Gabre-Madhin, Eleni Z. & Haggblade, Steven, 2003. "Successes in African agriculture," MSSD discussion papers 53, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Xu, Z. & Guan, Zhengfei & Jayne, Thomas S. & Black, J. Roy, 2009. "Factors Influencing the Profitability of Fertilizer Use on Maize in Zambia," Food Security Collaborative Policy Briefs 54639, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    7. Steven Block, 2010. "The Decline and Rise of Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa Since 1961," NBER Working Papers 16481, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Ursula Aldana & Jeremy D. Foltz & Bradford L. Barham & Pilar Useche, 2010. "Sequential Adoption of Package Technologies: The Dynamics of Stacked Trait Corn Adoption," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 93(1), pages 130-143.
    9. Arega D. Alene & Abebe Menkir & S. O. Ajala & B. Badu-Apraku & A. S. Olanrewaju & V. M. Manyong & Abdou Ndiaye, 2009. "The economic and poverty impacts of maize research in West and Central Africa," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 40(5), pages 535-550, 09.
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