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Because of concern over the possible impacts of climate variability and change on agricultural productivity, the Sikasso region was selected for the study as this region is the bread basket of Mali. Zignasso, a village near Sikasso, has been subjected to great climate variability and had a long tradition for adapting to such variability through changes in livelihood strategies and land use as well as through migration. There is concern that climate variability may increase over the coming decades, with the possibility of more dry years. This would likely increase food insecurity in Zignasso and neighboring villages. We examined impacts of warmer and drier climate on rural agricultural production and environmental damage, identified adaptation options to minimize impacts of climate change, and evaluated the adequacy of options for current change. Focus discussions with farmers in Zignasso, representatives of technical services and agricultural experts in Sikasso to prioritize adaptation options based on feasibility, costs, effectiveness and adequacy to current situation. Farmers believe temperatures have increased and precipitation decreased over the past several decades. These factors, they believe, along with deforestation, have decreased yields particularly for rice and maize and declined firewood availability. Farmers recommended adaptations that require outside financial and technical assistance because they need outside assistance to implement them. Adaptations emphasized by both the farmers and representatives of regional technical services are crop diversification and germplasm improvement; soil and water management; equipment (plows, carts, oxen, and improved stoves); credit stockage villageois “warrant age” (CSV); and access to fertilizer. The farmers stated the most important adaptation is to build a water gate to flood adjacent rice fields and allow for furrow irrigation enabling them to farm many crops in a year without water stress. The adaptations identified may present donors with opportunities to enhance and strengthen efforts to promote food security in Mali. Implementation of some adaptations could involve coordination and collaboration with other agencies and organizations that have similar goals.

Published as  FARA Research Results Vol 2 (11).