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Smallholders’ Access to Agricultural Equipment and Agro-Inputs in Mali

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Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa
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Farm equipment and agro-inputs are essential to raise the labor and land productivity. Due to low incomes, smallholder farmers are not able to acquire quality equipment and agro-inputs timely and at cost effective. Poor farmers, especially women have to wait until men finish with their activities to benefit from farm equipment. Although the government of Mali adopted a subsidy program since 2008, still many farmers couldn’t access to quality and cost effective fertilizer or equipment. Because the share they should pay is beyond their financial capacities. Farmers don’t have the same needs depending to their age, education level, belonging to an organization, size of farm and their willing to change. To increase smallholders’ productivity
and income, they should access sustainably timely quality inputs and equipment at an effective cost. The key is to engage all the stakeholders in the supply chain and offer a range of suitable options from which the user can select. Sustainability of mechanization includes financial and social, as well as environmental factors. There are local manufacturers that should be supported where feasible as they can provide machines adapted to local conditions and better technical service and replacement part supply. The public sector role in providing access to equipment and agro-inputs should be restricted to promulgating enabling policies, building technical and business management skills and stimulating demand. Lessons from other
experiences in making farm equipment and inputs available to smallholder farmers include subsidies, strong extension services, infrastructure development and a solid manufacturing sector that prioritizes the smallholder sector. The implications for Mali appear to be that group ownership and custom hire service provision are the models to follow.