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

Jeremy Foltz, Ursula Aldana, Paul Laris

Chapter in NBER book African Successes, Volume IV: Sustainable Growth (2016), Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil, editors (p. 111 - 136)
Published in September 2016 by University of Chicago Press
© 2016 by the National Bureau of Economic Research
in Research on Africa

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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This chapter first appeared as NBER working paper w17801, The Sahel's Silent Maize Revolution: Analyzing Maize Productivity in Mali at the Farm-level, Jeremy D. Foltz, Ursula T. Aldana, Paul Laris
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