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This paper examines the origins and impact of rapid recent growth of herbicide use among cotton system farmers. In order to trace trajectories, turning points and key causal forces governing herbicide usage and pricing, the authors have conducted interviews with herbicide importers and distributors in major markets across Southern Mali. Because hand weeding has historically dominated weed management practices in Mali, the study analyzes data from a 2017/18 survey of 400 farm households in the high-productivity soudano-sahelian zone to explore the seasonal and location opportunity cost of weeding labor and other key factors influencing herbicide adoption. These same micro-level data permit estimation of the productivity impact of herbicides, using a damage control function, as well as assessment of the profitability of herbicide use compared to alternate weed control strategies. Results from this study suggest that while herbicide profitability varies by locations, generally rapid uptake by women farmers frees up their labor time for other pursuits.

Published as FARA Research Report Volume 3 No: 2 (2018).