Drivers of adoption of small-scale irrigation in Mali and its impacts on nutrition across sex of irrigators

Irrigation is an important strategy to increase agricultural productivity, improve nutrition security and reduce climate-related risks in rural Africa, but adoption of this technology has been low. Using data from the Living Standards Measurement Study, this paper analyzes the characteristics of irrigation in Mali and its impact on nutrition across sex of irrigators. Results show that gravity irrigation is the most common technology and is practiced by 47 percent of irrigators. The share of women irrigators (3 percent of all plots) is significantly lower than that of men. Econometric results show that the proximity of crop fields to the homestead increases the propensity to use motor pumps while more remote plots are more likely to rely on gravity irrigation. Literacy and income from nonfarm activities increase the propensity to use motorized irrigation technologies. Access to motor pumps, in turn, increases consumption of fruits and vegetables, oils, spices, and cereals for female-headed households. Overall, irrigation increases consumption of nutrient-rich food groups, which significantly improves household nutrition in addition to increasing income. Participation in farmer groups increases the propensity to adopt irrigation. Farmer groups might also be an entry point for capacity building on irrigation; and groups to which women farmers belong should receive information on irrigation. Farmer groups also tend to support market participation, which is important to help address the challenge of economies of scale of small-scale irrigators.