Coping with cereal production risks due to the vagaries of weather, labour shortages and input markets through management in southern Mali

E.K. Huet*, M. Adam, B. Traore, K.E. Giller, K. Descheemaeker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Production of cereals (maize, sorghum, millet) in southern Mali is challenged by several hazards that affect yield and yield variability. The research aims to inform decision making towards effective risk management by quantifying cereal yield losses at field level due to production hazards under different management strategies. Five hazards relevant for farmers were analysed: late onset of rains, insufficient total rainfall, dry spells, low fertiliser quality and sudden lack of labour. The frequency and impact on yield of these hazards were assessed by combining a long term weather database (1965–2019) with outputs of the DSSAT crop model (baseline and optimised variety, fertiliser rates and sowing dates), and visualised in a risk matrix. The prevalence of the weather hazards was common, with all of them occurring at least once every five years. Frequency of non-weather hazards were perceived to occur once every five years (labour hazards) and once every ten years (fertiliser hazards). Under baseline conditions maize (3.39 t / ha) outperformed sorghum (1.74 t / ha) and millet (1.33 t / ha), except in cases of fertiliser hazard when sorghum yielded more than maize. Maize responded relatively well to N application, and sorghum performed relatively well without N application. The benefit of millet resided in low yield variability, and lower sensitivity to the weather hazards. Changing management to optimise yields generally involved early sowing (22 days, 2 days and 27 days after onset for maize, sorghum and millet), increased N applications (66 kg N / ha, 27 kg N / ha and 111 kg N / ha for maize, sorghum and millet), and using short duration varieties. For millet the long duration variety was more beneficial. For maize there was opportunity to increase the yield without affecting the risk of yield loss, while for sorghum there was a synergy and for millet a trade-off between yield and risk. The different interactions between hazards and management for the three cereals stress the importance of maintaining farm diversity, as well as operational farm flexibility to respond to production risks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126587
JournalEuropean Journal of Agronomy
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Crop model
  • Hazard
  • Maize
  • Millet
  • Sorghum
  • West-Africa


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