MSU Agricultural Economics  Research > Food Security III > Policy Syntheses > No. 45



James Tefft, Nango Dembele, Josué Dioné, and John M. Staatz

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Food Security II Cooperative Agreement between U.S. Agency for International Development, Global Bureau, Economic Growth Center, Office of Agriculture and Food Security and Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University


During the last 14 years, the Department of Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University (MSU) conducted various research, training and outreach activities to improve Mali's food security and thereby contribute to this country's sustainable economic growth based on market economy. These activities were designed and carried out in collaboration with the Mali Economic Research Institute (IER), the Market Information System (SIM/OPAM), and the Sahel Institute (INSAH/CILSS). They were undertaken as part of the MSU Food Security Project funded by USAID/Mali and USAID/Washington.

The MSU Food Security Project constitutes a piece of long standing (more than 20 years) relationships between Mali and MSU involving faculty members and students in the Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Arts and Letters, and Social Science. In the last ten years, more than 20 Malians have received graduate level education at MSU and they now hold positions in Mali and in West Africa. In addition, an equal number of non-Malian students undertook their thesis research in Mali.


The overall goal of the Food Security (FS) Project in Mali is to increase food security as part of a broad-based, market-oriented sustainable economic growth strategy. The operational objective is to strengthen the capacity of Mali and USAID/Mali to analyze food security issues through applied research, on-the-job training of researchers and analysts, graduate level training of selected Malians, and extension/dissemination of research findings for policy decision making.

The FS Project has demonstrated that paying attention to the links between applied research, analytical capacity building, and the creation of a dialogue on agricultural policies based on empirical data and information makes it possible to contribute simultaneously to the increase of the demand and supply of credible and relevant information necessary for policy decision making. Without such effort, the private sector involvement and the monitoring of policy reforms are difficult to achieve. The project experience also shows that empirical valid information can be a powerful tool in the policy debates and can be used in the design and implementation of improved food policies, effective programs, institutional reforms, and investment plans aimed at improving food security.


The land grant approach has heavily influenced MSU missions. As a "land grant" institution, MSU was given land and funding by the U.S. government with the mission to:

(1) provide access to quality higher education to any citizen regardless of socioeconomic status,

(2) teach knowledge and skills required for professional careers and which are beneficial to society, and

(3) contribute to strengthening the democratic system through educational programs, research and extension activities that are relevant to people's needs. This pragmatic and versatile approach

recognizes the synergies resulting from integrating research, extension and teaching.


While recognizing that it is difficult to isolate the impacts of a series of activities designed to change people's attitudes, promote new ideas, and improve analytical methods, the FS Project impact in Mali can be highlighted as follows:

Examples of SIM's support to the private sector:

The FS Project was able to achieve its objectives thanks to:


James Tefft is visiting specialist in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University (MSU). Nango Dembélé is visiting asistant professor, Department of Agricultural Economics at Michigan State University (MSU) and is based in Bamako where he coordinates the MSU-APCAM market information services project (PASIDMA). Josué Dioné is a senior policy analyst at the African Development bank and formerly was coordinator of the joint MSU-INSAH Sahel regional food security Program (PRISAS); and John Staatz is professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics at MSU.