In Mali’s remote Mopti region at the Sahara Desert’s edge, nearly 90 percent of the population are farmers who live below the poverty line. These farmers face many challenges: child mortality is 30 percent higher than Mali’s national average, according to the International Monetary Fund; over one-third of children in the Mopti region suffer chronic malnutrition; and families there typically only have enough to eat for nine months out of the year. The main cause of poverty is low agricultural productivity caused by uneven rainfall, limited means for water management and inadequate agricultural support services.
The Mopti Coordinated Area Development Program, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), aims to help families in this region achieve greater food security and higher incomes. Aga Khan Foundation USA has partnered with Aga Khan Agency for Microfinance (AKAM) and ACDI/VOCA, a leading non-profit organization in training farmers on business approaches and marketing. The project works in four main areas:
Women play a key role in this project. They are the main growers of vegetables. When they have access to more vegetables year-round and capacity to make better nutrition decisions, the result can be healthier children who are ready to learn. Therefore this project focuses not only on cash crops that contribute to household income, but also crops that contribute to the household diet. The project helps women gardeners increase their crops’ productivity with better vegetable varieties, and boost their incomes by organizing cooperatives and using market information to sell at higher prices.
The project also trains male and female smallholder farmers on new varieties and improved production of staple crops including rice, millet and sorghum, which are essential to the Malian diet. With access to markets, farmers and their cooperatives can potentially have steadier income and more food year-round.
Other focus areas
Farm productivity and food security are closely linked to household nutrition and mother-child health.
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