Developing Local Extension Capacity


Extract of a study by the The Feed the Future Developing Local Extension Capacity (DLEC) project led by Digital Green, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Care International and GFRAS.

Mali is a landlocked, low-income country with a population of nearly 18 million. By 2020, the population of Mali is projected to increase to 20.9 million (INSTAT, 2012). The population is relatively young, with a median age of 16 years, growing at an average rate of about three percent (World Bank, 2018d). The capital city is Bamako and administratively Mali comprises 10 regions, each under the authority of an elected governor.1 The 10 regions are further divided into 49 districts (called “cercles” in French) and 703 municipalities (called “communes” in French). A majority of Mali’s population is concentrated in the south, along the Niger River, where climatic conditions are more favorable for agriculture (see Table 1). Sixty-three percent of the population lives in rural areas; however, this proportion is declining because of migration to urban centers [National Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), 2012]. 

Mali’s political and economic situation has been very volatile over the past 60 years. The country gained independence from France in 1960. From the mid 1990s until 2010, the economy was growing at approximately five percent per year, but in 2012, a military coup d’état and a deteriorating security situation in the north brought gross domestic product (GDP) growth down to one percent. The coup d’état, coupled with an armed occupation of the northern region, left the country in a fragile state. In 2013, economic growth slowly resumed but was hampered by bad weather and poor crops. Following substantial financial support from the U.S., German and Canadian aid agencies, the economy’s growth rebounded to seven percent in 2014. 

In 2015, the Government of Mali and two major rebel coalitions signed a peace agreement, bringing hope for stability. By the end of 2015, per capita gross national income was USD $760. Mali has since embarked on structural reforms and adopted various sound economic policies that have contributed to growth. This has led to increased cotton and mining production, steady investments and a relatively stable macroeconomic environment. 

However, over two million people continue to be affected by the armed conflict in the north and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced both within the country and to neighboring countries. As of June 2017, there were estimated to be over 50,000 internally displaced peoples within Mali, along with 58,000 refugee returnees [United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 2017]. 

 Full report:

World Wide Extension Study

maliThe World Wide Extension Study WWES provided empirical data on the human and financial resources of agricultural extension and advisory systems worldwide. The programme ran from 2009-2012 and was funded by USAID and managed by IFPRI in partnership with FAO (along with DAAS and CIRAD) and IICA.

Governments in many countries including sub-Saharan African countries have traditionally taken the dominant role in the provision of agricultural extension services because of the important contribution of the agricultural sector to the economy. In Mali, governmental and parastatal extension services are by far the most important agricultural extension and advisory services providers because of the number of field staff members (841), the extent of geographic coverage and the range of technical areas.  To lend support to the government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and projects provide temporary or occasional extension and advisory services, alongside the private sector whose contribution to EAS is very limited.


A Brief History of Public Extension Policies, Resources and Advisory Activities in Mali

Governmental agricultural extension and advisory services are offered through the operational units (Directions) of principal ministries (e.g. Ministére de l’Agriculture, Ministére de l’Elevage et de la Pêche, Ministére de l’Environment, etc.) and the various Offices du Development Rural (e.g. Office de la Haute Vallée du Niger-OHVN, Office du Niger-ON, etc.). Ministerial Directions coordinate extension services in their specific technical domain while offices are the dominant extension service providers in their geographic area of operation. NGOs and the private sector entities intervene through governmental field program by providing additional technical training and operational support to governmental field staff members.

At the national level, public extension is managed by 141 staff, of which 11 are senior staff and all men. There are 130 subject matter specialists who provide backstopping support to the field staff, two of them have a graduate degree (PhD) and all are male.  The field level extension workers constitute the bulk of staff (77%), with 47% of them holding a 2 to 3 year agricultural diploma, and only 7% are female (Table 1). Pre-service training is available through the Centre d’Apprentissage Agricole, CAA Samanko and three other similar vocational agricultural training centers in the country. The in-service training is provided by 40 staff, 22 of them with a bachelor degree and one with a PhD, while 12 Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff trained at the bachelor level are responsible for providing support in the use of multimedia resources and advanced communication and information tools.

Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Mali (Governmental or Ministry-based Extension Organization)

Major Categories of Extension Staff

Secondary School diploma

2-3 yr. Ag diploma

B.Sc. degree

M.Sc./Ing. Agr. degree

Ph.D. degree












Senior Management Staff




Subject Matter Specialists (SMS)





Field Level Extension Staff






Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) Support Staff






In-Service Training Staff









Total Extension Staff:  841      











Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011

Exension Providers

Major Institutions providing extension/advisory services in the country

Public Sector

The public sector is represented by the principal ministries in charge of crop production, livestock production, forestry, fisheries and rural infrastructure development, and other governmental entities and parastatal organizations with. The key governmental units with national EAS function within the ministries include:

Public Extension Institutions

  • Operational units of Ministries
    • Direction Nationale de l’Agriculture (DNA)
    • Direction Nationale du Genie Rural (DNGR)
    • Direction Nationale des Productions et des Industries Animales (DNPIA)
    • Direction Nationale des Services Veterinaires (DNSV)
    • Direction Nationale des Eaux et Forets (DNEF)

Other Government entities and parastatal organizations

  • Compagnie Malienne pour le Development des Textiles
  • Office du Development Rural de Sélingué
  • Office de la Haute Vallée du Niger
  • Office du Niger
  • Office Riz Mopti
  • Office de Protection des Végétaux
  • Office du Périmètre Irrigué de Baguineda
  • Office Riz Ségou

In addition to conducting research to assist the agricultural sector with new technologies and best practices, these institutions also specializes in training agricultural personnel at different levels. The Université de Bamako provides university-level education in the agricultural sciences while the Centre d’Apprentissage Agricole specialize in vocational agricultural training for field staff.  

  • Centre d’Apprentissage Agricole de Samanko
  • Université de Bamako, Institut Polytechnique Rural/Institut  de Formation et de Rescherche Appliquée de Katibougou
  • Institut d’Economie Rurale

Private Sector Firms

  • Bureau d’Etude et d’Appuis Conseils aux Initiatives Locale, BEACIL-SARL/ Sènè Kunda
  • ASTI Agricultural Research and Development investments and capacity in Mali:

Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors

  • AMASSA- Afrique Verte Mali (Association Malienne pour la Sécurité et la Souverainté Alimentaire)
  • ENDA Mali  
  • ICD, Initiatives-Conseils-Developpement
  • Intercooperation Suisse - Sahel 
  • Near East Foundation
  • Nyeta Conseils 

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives 

Small scale farmers are organized into producer groups and chambers at the regional level. Each chamber functions as an independent entity that represents farmers in the region. All chambers from the nine regions form a representative body that serves as the interface between the government and the rural population. Expanded role of these groups or associations is to identify farmers’ problems, defend their interests, collect sand exchange information, and speak on farmers’ behalf in improving their welfare.

  • APCAM, Assemblée Permanente des Chambres d’Agriculture du Mali - Permanent Assembly of Agricultural Chambers
  • Association des Organisations Professionnelles Paysannes
  • Federation of Farmers and Producer Organizations-Coordination Nationale Des Organisations Paysannes Du Mali

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Mali. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

Enabling Environment

Enabling (or Disabling) Environment

EAS in Mali is facing a serious human resource crisis that raises concerns about efficiency and sustainability of current extension programs. Current level of understaffing and an aging cohort of acting field agents underscore the need for policies and infrastructures to be put in place in order to facilitate training of a new generation of agricultural extension professionals. Furthermore, harmonizing the range of methodological and technical training approach used across the various governmental EAS programs and major NGO and donor projects, and by private sector companies involved in EAS is a necessary path toward modernizing EAS in Mali.


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

Mali has a history of experimentation with various media in reaching farmers. Although information and communications technology sector has undergone a revolution over the last decade in all developing countries, boosting economic productivity, raising incomes of families and small businesses, Mali agricultural extension sector is still lagging behind in this area. In general, the use of multimedia resources and advanced communication and information access/dissemination tools in EAS programs is weak to non-existent. The major extension programs continue to rely on printed materials (fiche technique) and demonstration plots as their principal tools in providing information for field agents and in reaching farmers. However, the private sector and  international organizations like FAO that are working in collaboration with local extension services are helping EAS improve the manner in which extension materials are presented to farmers and the general public. For examples, extension brochures, posters, roadside signs, billboards, radio an even television are use as strategies to promote extension services and products.  


 Training for Extension Professionals

The training for extension professional at the university level is provided by the Université de Bamako through the Institut Polytechnique Rural/Institut Formation et Recherche Appliquée (IPR/IFRA) de Katibougou. The vast majority of specialists and researchers have their first degrees from IPR/IFRA, and most of upper-level field technicians received their terminal degrees at this institution as well. IPR/IFRA also offers a four year degree program in agricultural extension and since 2002 it has been a member of the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) initiative.

The Centre d’Apprentissage Agricole de Samanko, one of four vocational agricultural training centers in the country provides both theoretical and practical training at the technician level. The centre issues two-year Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnel Agricole (CAPA) and two-year Brevet de Technicien en Agriculture (BTA) degrees. In addition to CAPA and BTA programs, the CAA/Samanko also offers a two-year Brevet de Technicien en Vulgarisation Agricole (BTVA) degree. Enrollment at this center is limited due to lack of space and teaching materials.


Statistical Indicators

Mali                                                                                                                            Year

Agricultural land (sq km)



Agricultural land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares)



Arable land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares per person)



Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)



Food production index (1999-2001 = 100)



Food exports (% of merchandise exports)



Food imports (% of merchandise imports)



GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)*



Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)



Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)



Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)



Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)







Internet users (per 100 people)







Population, total



Population density (people per sq. km of land area)



Rural population



Rural population (% of total population)



Agricultural population* 



Agricultural population (% of total population)*



Total economically active population in Agriculture*



Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)*



Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)*



Source: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization FAO



Mali. 2008. Accelerated Growth Strategy Paper of Mali Over The 2008-2012 Period. Republic of

Mali. April 2008.