Meet the African women making strides in agriculture

Daniel Abugah December 27, 2017

Maïmouna Coulibaly

Maïmouna Sidibe Coulibaly is an agro industrialist from Mali and one of the two winners of the 2017 premier African Food Prize, the most prestigious prize for African agricultural development.

Maïmouna’s husband Ntji described her as “…the pillar of our family, the pillar of our motherland”.  She watched her mother, as a little girl, tilling the fields, growing just a little bit of millet, sorghum, maize, rice, and peanut— to support and nourish the family. And as the years went by, her desire to do something bigger and better—to stem the tide, grew stronger. With every opportunity, she acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to venture into modern farming.

She opened a seed company, ‘Faso Kaba’, and started selling improved maize to farmers in 2003. Along the way she got some support from Alliance and USAID and went on to establish capacity training programs for Faso Kaba staff, which helped improve its seed processing quality, output and efficiency. Her company’s improved seeds can improve agricultural yields by up to 40 percent.

Working with over 30 staff (made up of both men and women), some 80 field laborers, and 150 seed distributors, Maïmouna has also set up a modern office, a processing plant, and has demonstration plots where scientists and farmers meet to work to improve seed quality. Over 1 million tons of various hybrids and varieties have been so far sold from her farms.

Her company is the largest seed provider in Mali, with impact beyond the country’s domestic market. During the Ebola crisis, Faso Kaba transported grains to Syria, Ghana, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and other neighboring countries.

Maïmouna together with Ruth Oniang’o of Kenya, an advocate of nutrition, won the 2017’s premier African Food Prize with a $100,000 prize amount.

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