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Will cotton make a comeback in Mali?

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With the decline of cotton especially in the marginal cotton areas, farmers have been using more of the cotton-financed inputs on the cereals. The cotton para-statal company (CMDT) has made a virtue out of this recommending diversification for these regions. Following the world price spike in 2010, the Malian government responded with a substantial price increase for cotton in 2011 of 38% to rejuvenate the Malian sector. This article looks at the impact of this price policy in the cotton economy and the potential of new cereal technology and marketing strategy to raise incomes and facilitate the diversification. Given the importance of the marketing decision of selling later after the recovery of cereal prices from the harvest collapse, a discrete stochastic programming model was developed for three-stage decision making. Then, the recent changes in the cotton economy and government fertilizer subsidies were analyzed along with the introduction of the new technology marketing of sorghum. Cotton and maize continue to dominate the economy but the combined sorghum technology marketing increases farmers' incomes by 16% to 21% and eases the return to normal cotton prices, after the 2011 price spike, as well as the removal of the fertilizer subsidies.

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