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Strengthening the agriculture-nutrition nexus for food and nutrition security in Mali

October 27, 2015

Around one million Malians are affected by food insecurity. Women between 15 and 49 years of age and children less than 5 years old are particularly affected by malnutrition. Among the latter, 24 per cent are underweight, 12 per cent suffer from acute malnutrition, 29 per cent from chronic malnutrition, 82 per cent from anaemia and 47 per cent remain at risk of vitamin A deficiency. Statistics also show that 8 per cent of women aged between 15 and 49 years are underweight, 20 per cent are overweight, 68 per cent suffer from anaemia and 51 per cent are deficient in vitamin A.

Crucial data on the current status of food and nutrition security in Mali were presented on 28 October 2015 at the CTA sponsored workshop “Strengthening the Agriculture-Nutrition Nexus For Food and Nutrition Security”.

Organised in Bamako, under the auspices of Mali’s Ministry of Rural Development and the National Committee for Agricultural Research (Comité National de la Recherche Agricole, CNRA) in partnership with CTA and SENESO as technical partners, the workshop aimed to review the current situation and prospects of achieving food and nutrition security in Mali.

The one-day event brought together over twenty public and private sector actors representing research and extension services in agriculture, health and nutrition services, NGOs, the Office of Food Security Commission, agricultural processors and food quality control agencies who are directly or indirectly involved in food and nutrition security policies and programmes in Mali. 

They deliberated on data generated from the CTA commissioned rapid scan which analyzed the linkages between agriculture and food and nutrition security in Mali in order to provide guidance for future interventions that would enhance the agriculture and nutrition nexus and improve nutrition security outcomes. Delegates discussed key questions such as how agriculture interventions, based on key commodities and value-chains ensure that the objectives of nutrition programmes are met? And, how do these programmes ensure that the nutritional needs of the vulnerable groups are taken into account.

Mali is globally food secure, but nutrition insecure

Some of the key findings of the study include the following. Globally, in Mali, the average annual food production over the five past years (six million tons for rice, millet, sorghum, and maize) and the corresponding food availability per capita per annum was 393 kg for cereals, 135 kg for rice, 40 kg for legume crops, 3.42 kg for meat, and 106 kg for milk. Meat showed a six-fold deficit. Despite this situation, pockets of food insecurity still exist with one million hungry people located in 166 communes. The observed food insecurity was also worsened by the 2012 socio-political crisis that led to displacement of people and rendered difficult food movement towards the northern regions of Tombouctou, Gao and Kidal. Nutrition insecurity is also a reality in Mali among children under five: 24 per cent are underweight, 12 per cent suffer from acute malnutrition, 29 per cent from chronic malnutrition, 82 per cent from anemia, and 47 per cent from vitamin A deficiency. Malnutrition also exists among women - 8% wasted, 20% overweight, 68% with anemia, and 51% with vitamin A deficiency. Pockets of malnutrition include the regions of Sikasso, Kayes, Mopti, and Tombouctou. 

mali fns video

From an institutional perspective, there are several organisations in Mali involved in food and nutrition security, however, the Nutrition Division of the health sector is the lead institution for the implementation of all nutrition interventions. As a result, nutrition issues seem to be lagging well behind in the agenda of most other institutions involved in agriculture and food security. Also worth mentioning is the lack of efficient mechanisms for monitoring of nutritional status of populations in the country.  

The delegates discussed how the results can be used to inform governmental decisions on public expenditure and support efforts to attract private sector investment in Mali for improving agriculture and nutrition outcomes. 

CTA was represented by Dr. Sokona Dagnoko, a national expert and seed specialist at the West Africa Seed Program who coordinated the CTA commissioned rapid scan. Dr. Dagnoko presented the preliminary findings during the national validation workshop. These findings are part of the broader CTA initiative to generate and validate evidence for strengthening the agriculture nutrition nexus in the ACP region. Despite recent initiatives, little information seems available on how to strengthen the relationship between agriculture and FNS. What are the possible entry points and what are the key indicators for measuring success for improving nutrition outcomes through agriculture-led interventions?

Video report from the workshop (only available in French)



So far for this year, CTA has commissioned 18 rapid scans on the agriculture-nutrition nexus in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, in addition to the 10 country case studies on the food and nutrition security situation which were commissioned in 2014. The food and nutrition security rapid scans and case studies will soon be available as CTA Working Papers.