Agriculture, livestock and fisheries are the pillars under the rural economy of the Upper Niger Basin and Inner Niger Delta. On a national level they are essential to feed the continuously growing urban and rural population. The opportunities for these sectors depend strongly on soil conditions and water availability. In the Sahel agriculture without flooding or irrigation is hardly possible, while livestock raising hinges on seasonal movements (transhumance). In the southern part of the Upper Niger Basin seasonal rainfall is sufficiently high to permit sedentary agriculture.
Over time, land use has changed with population growth and especially agriculture has increased considerably. In Mali the food production increased strongly in the past 50 years: the cereal production increased from 1.1 mln ton in the 1960s to 8.8 mln ton in 2016, while the surface area grew from 1.5 mln ha to 5.5 mln ha (Mali country profile on www.faostat.org). This goes along with major changes in land use (see West African Context). On a smaller scale, however, there are also important shifts, in particular in the intensity of land use. Data on the surface area and production of different sectors (agriculture, livestock, fisheries etc.) are collected by the relevant institutes in Guinea and Mali, mostly on an annual basis and at country-level. Much of this information is used in the FAO-statistics. More detailed information on lower administrative units is available in the annual reports at the institutes in Mali and Guinea.
This section gives a brief outline of available information on the rural sector with data on developments in production and surface area of the different cultures. Specific attention is given to the transhumance, the fisheries in the Inner Niger Delta and the Office du Niger: the rice granary of West Africa.