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The Sikasso Paradoxe: Cotton and Poverty in Mali


  • Jocelyne Delarue

    () (AFD, Département de la Recherche)

  • Sandrine Mesplé-Somps

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

  • Jean-David Naudet

    () (AFD, Département de la Recherche)

  • Anne-Sophie Robilliard

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)


(english) In Mali, the situation of cotton growing households has traditionally been considered as more favorable than that of food crop producers. However, official statistics on poverty suggest that the cotton growing region of Sikasso is among the poorest regions of the country and that cotton producers are on average poorer than all other farmers. This article offers a detailed analysis of this paradox, the so-called Sikasso paradox. The official statistics on poverty are set out and data and methodological issues are exposed.The reworking of the data led to the conclusion that cotton producers have an “advantage” over other farmers. This analysis underlines the need for open debate concerning data – an oft neglected step in the analysis of development policy. _________________________________ (français) Au Mali, il est entendu que la situation des producteurs de coton est meilleure que celle des producteurs de produits viviers. Cependant, les statistiques officielles de la pauvreté suggèrent que la région de Sikasso - région dans la quelle le coton est essentiellement cultivé fait partie des régions les plus pauvres du pays et que les producteurs de coton sont en moyenne plus pauvres que les autres agriculteurs. Cet article examine en détail ce paradoxe, souvent nommé le paradoxe de Sikasso, ainsi que ses enjeux en termes d’économie politique du « chiffre ». Nous analysons en détail les statistiques officielles et les problèmes méthodologiques qu’elles posent. Nous montrons que finalement les producteurs de coton connaissent de meilleures conditions de vie que les autres agriculteurs. La conclusion d’un tel cas d’étude n’est évidemment pas de se détourner de la mesure des conditions de vie des populations. L’exemple de Sikasso plaide au contraire pour que les évaluateurs et concepteurs de politiques publiques accordent une importance première à la fabrication des données, et que ces dernières fassent l’objet d’un débat contradictoire. Dans tous les instruments de pilotage, de conception et d’évaluation des politiques publiques, la collecte et le traitement des données devraient sans doute recueillir une attention au moins aussi importante que leur analyse, et susciter tout autant la contradiction.

Suggested Citation

  • Jocelyne Delarue & Sandrine Mesplé-Somps & Jean-David Naudet & Anne-Sophie Robilliard, 2009. "The Sikasso Paradoxe: Cotton and Poverty in Mali," Working Papers DT/2009/09, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200909

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Tsimpo, Clarence & Wodon, Quentin, 2007. "Poverty among Cotton Producers: Evidence from West and Central Africa," MPRA Paper 10484, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kelly, Valerie A. & Tefft, James F. & Oehmke, James F. & Staatz, John M., 2004. "Identifying Policy Relevant Variables For Reducing Childhood Malnutrition In Rural Mali," Staff Paper Series 11528, Michigan State University, Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics.
    3. Isabel Günther & Mohamed Ali Marouani & Marc Raffinot, 2006. "La croissance est-elle pro-pauvres au Mali ?," Working Papers DT/2006/15, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
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    Cited by:

    1. Delpeuch, Claire & Vandeplas, Anneleen, 2013. "Revisiting the “Cotton Problem”—A Comparative Analysis of Cotton Reforms in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 209-221.
    2. Alfani, Federica & Azzarri, Carlo & d'Errico, Marco & Molini, Vasco, 2012. "Poverty in Mozambique : new evidence from recent household surveys," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6217, The World Bank.
    3. Collins, Julia C. & Foltz, Jeremy D., 2013. "Gender Production Differentials In Africa," 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. 150130, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.
    4. Eozenou, Patrick & Madani, Dorsati & Swinkels, Rob, 2013. "Poverty, malnutrition and vulnerability in Mali," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6561, The World Bank.

    More about this item


    Africa; Mali; Poverty; Cotton.;

    JEL classification:

    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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