A rapid scoping mission was carried out by B.M. Simpson and E.K. Dembélé during December 2010. A report was submitted to the USAID Mission, and additional inputs provided to the Mission for the Feed the Future country strategy. Key observations include:
- the urgent need to address the growing human resource deficit as most programs are currently understaffed, filled with aging field agents, using outdated extension methods;
- strengthen the University program and regional training centers that are preparing the next generation of agricultural extension agents, especially female candidates;
- consolidate, make user-ready and provide open access to new technical information that can be accessed by the pluralistic extension and advisory service providers;
- expand usage of available information and communication channels, especially rural radio, in reaching the 85% of Mali’s population that is in range of a FM radio station;
- begin to capture, distill and disseminating the important lessons learned through earlier investment cycles in village association development, experimentation with user-pay advisory services, farmer field schools and others so that successful past efforts can be strengthened and pitfalls avoided.