Mali Agriculture and Fishing Overview

Agriculture and fishing

Three out of four males feed on livestock, agriculture or fishing. The vast majority of them grow crops for their own use in small areas. The cultivation takes place mainly around the Niger River in southern Mali.

  • CountryAAH: Comprehensive import regulations of Mali. Covers import prohibitions and special documentation requirements for a list of prohibited items.

Only one-twentieth of Mali’s land area is arable, but a quarter of the land can be used for any form of natural agriculture, ie forestry, animal husbandry and fishing and aquaculture alongside agriculture.

The most important food crops are millet, sorghum, corn and rice. Food production is usually not enough to satisfy the population. The country is therefore dependent on food imports. For Mali defense and foreign policy, please check prozipcodes.

Cotton is the most important export crop. Mali is one of Africa’s largest cotton producers and the cotton is of high quality. Around four million males are estimated to earn their living through cotton cultivation, directly or indirectly.

Also fruits, nuts and some vegetables are exported. In the Niger valley, both rice and cotton are grown using artificial irrigation from the river.

Since the late 1960s, Mali has suffered from recurring dry periods. Livestock management has been affected by drought to a greater extent than agriculture. For the people living nomadic lives, mainly Tuareg and Fulani, this has meant a disaster and parts of the northern regions have been depopulated.

Livestock management has certainly increased in importance during the 2000s and 2010s, but it is increasingly managed by resident farmers. The conflicts between nomads and residents on water and land for the livestock have increased during the 2010s. The industry contributes around a tenth of GDP and employs just under a third of the working population.

Thanks to the fish-rich rivers Niger and Senegal, Mali is one of West Africa’s largest fish producers. It is mainly in Niger’s inland delta that a lot of fish is caught. Most of the fish catch is consumed in the country.


Agriculture’s share of GDP

38.5 percent (2018)

Percentage of land used for agriculture

33.8 percent (2016)



New Prime Minister

December 30

After Prime Minister Abdoulaye Idrissa Maïga unexpectedly resigns, President Keïta appoints his close ally Soumeylou Boubèye Maïga as new prime minister. He becomes the fifth head of government since Keïta took office in 2013. The new government gets 36 ministers, six of whom are new.

Regional strength is supported by the UN

December 8

The UN Security Council is giving a clear indication that the UN force Minusma will support the new regional force G5 Sahel, which will fight extremist Islamists in the region. G5 Sahel should be able to get help with medical evacuations, fuel and water, and efforts by engineering troops. The support only applies in Mali, not in the other four G5 Sahel countries.


Regional selection is postponed

November 27th

The elections in the regions that would have been held in December are postponed to April 2018, the government announces. The decision will then protest both opposition and government-loyal groups against the timing of the election. Later elections are postponed further, until the end of 2018.

Violence stops the prime minister

November 6

Prime Minister Idrissa Maïga sets up a meeting in the city of Niafounke in central Mali after a security vehicle driven on a mine and three soldiers was injured. At the same time, at least four civilians are reported to have been killed in an explosion against a bus in the north, while four civilians and one soldier died when two Minusma trucks were attacked in the middle of the country. In a third attack, six motorcycle jihadists are reported to have killed a person in Sevare, where the new G5 Sahel force is headquartered.

International strength is launched

November 1st

The five-nation G5 Sahel force formed to fight jihadism begins its work (see February 2017). Soldiers from Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso gather for a first operation in the border region where the three countries meet, French military reports. Mauritania and Chad are also part of the G5 Sahel.


Malian soldiers killed in anti-terror attacks

October 24th

Eleven captured Malian soldiers are killed in connection with a strike by French forces against jihadists in the Kidal region. The government soldiers must have been taken prisoner between July 2016 and March 2017. French military states that 15 jihadists were also killed and that a group with links to Aqim was destroyed.


Deadly attacks on the UN force

September 24th

At least three Bangladeshi soldiers from the UN peacekeeping force Minusma are killed and five injured when their vehicles run on a road mine in northern Mali. In early September, two Minus mas soldiers were killed when their vehicles exploded in the Kidal region of the north.

The UN decides on sanctions

September 5

The UN Security Council adopts a proposal from France to target sanctions against individuals and companies that violate the 2015 peace treaty..


Plans on a new basis are being abandoned

August 18th

President Keïta is withdrawing plans to hold a contentious referendum on a new constitution, to the cheers of the opposition. Street protests have been going on for months against the proposal that, according to critics, would have given the president too much power. The new constitution would have included the 2015 peace agreement and, among other things, meant the creation of a Senate. According to previous plans, the referendum would be held in July, but in June it was announced that it would be postponed due to the strong resistance. So Keïta announces that the proposal will be completely withdrawn.

Deadly attacks on UN bases

August 14th

Nine people are killed when jihadists strike Minusmabases, in Mopti in central Mali and in Timbuktu. The victims are a Togolese UN soldier, six Malays and a civilian of unspecified foreign origin. A total of eight jihadists are also killed in connection with the attacks.


Struggles in the north

July 27

Disputes between Tuareg in the former guerrilla group CMA and the government loyal militia are reported from Kidal, with large losses on both sides. The clashes between the two groups have increased in recent weeks, despite the peace agreement of 2015. A few days later, CMA rebels are reported to have taken the city of Menaka further south, without fighting.


Swedish Johan Gustafsson released

June 26

The Swedish Johan Gustafsson, who was captured by Aqim in 2011, has been released. This is announced by the Swedish government. Gustafsson has flown home to Sweden and feels relatively well.

The UN provides a sign for regional military force

21 June

The UN Security Council adopts a resolution that marks the military force decided by the G5 Sahel states in February. However, there will be no direct UN mandate, as advocated by France. The United States considers that such a mandate is not needed as the force must adhere to the territories of the participating countries. The force will have its headquarters in Mali. According to plans, it will consist of 10,000 police and soldiers and be up and running by the end of the year. The EU has pledged EUR 50 million in support of the new force.

CMA boycott reconciliation treaties

June 20

A national reconciliation treaty written by an expert committee is handed over to President Keïta at a two-year anniversary of the peace agreement. But the former CMA rebel alliance boycott the ceremony and withdraw from the treaty, protesting that it does not include proposals made by the ex-rebels at the April peace conference.

Over 30 dead in battles for land

June 19

At least 31 people are reported to have been killed in clashes over the weekend in central Mali, between farming dogos and livestock-feeding fulani claiming the same land areas. Similar incidents are common, but the death toll is unusually high. The power vacuum that prevails and a large influx of weapons from lawless Libya have worsened the situation.

Terrorist attack on tourist resort

June 19

Five people are killed in connection with an attack on a tourist resort on the outskirts of Bamako. The victims are four civilian foreigners and one Malian soldier. Four perpetrators are shot dead in connection with French and Malian forces storming the site where some 30 people are being held hostage. The newly formed Group in support of Islam and Muslims says they are behind the attack. It is a newly formed group of al-Qaeda affiliated jihadists. Many Westerners usually visit the plant in Kangaba.


Report on stoning is rejected

May 29th

Information that an unmarried couple was stoned to death in the Kidal area is rejected after a couple of weeks by the authorities, even though jihadists had stated a threat of stoning. But the violence is widespread in the area: according to the opposition party Parena, 309 people have been killed by armed groups since the beginning of the year in an “alarming deterioration in the security situation”.


New head of government

April 8

President Keïta appoints Idrissa Maïga as new Prime Minister. Maïga has been Minister of Defense since August 2016 and was the campaign manager for Keïta ahead of the 2013 presidential election.

The Peace Conference ends with everyone present

April 4th

A week-long national peace conference is being held in Bamako in accordance with the 2015 peace agreement, on the situation in the north. The conference begins shakily when first the CMA and then the political opposition refused to participate. But after a few days, the CMA ends its boycott, and then the politicians. When the final ceremony is held, representatives of all parties – the government, the loyal militia, former rebels and the opposition, participate.


Deadly attack by new jihadistallians

March 5th

Eleven soldiers are killed in a raid on a military base at the village of Boulekessi near the border with Burkina Faso. A new alliance of jihadists loyal to al Qaeda is taking on the deed. The Alliance calls itself the Group in Support of Islam and Muslims (GSIM, or in Arabic Nusra al-Islam wal-Muslim). GSIM recently “featured” in a video recording of five jihadist leaders, led by Ansar al-Din’s leader Iyad Ag Ghaly. GSIM also includes al-Murabitoun and the Macina Brigade, which is active in central Mali. At the end of the month, a new attack is reported by GSIM in the same area; The attack requires two soldiers and one civilian’s life.


New regional counter-terrorism force is planned

6th of February

Leaders from the G5 Sahel states – Mali, Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – decide at a meeting in Bamako to establish a new regional force to fight extreme Islamist groups. The force has to get a clear sign from the UN and is hoped to be financed by European countries, which is justified by the fact that it would save the lives of European soldiers.


Militia killed in attack

January 21st

Fourteen members of a loyalist militia are killed in yet another attack in Kidal.

Many dead in suicide

January 18

Over 70 people are killed when a suicide bomber strikes against a camp in Gao for former CMA rebels and government-loyal militia. The attack comes just when former rebels and militiamen are going out to patrol jointly, in accordance with the peace agreement. President Keïta announces three days of country grief following the attack, which is the single bloodiest in a long time in the country and throughout the region. al-Murabitoun, led by Algerian Mokhtar Belmokhtar, takes on the deed.

Summit in Bamako

January 14

Leaders of more than 30 countries gather in Mali’s capital for a Franco-African summit. The ongoing crisis in the Gambia is in focus. Otherwise, a number of issues are on the agenda, including the fight against jihadism and Africa’s role in the migrant crisis in Europe.

Mali Agriculture and Fishing