Economy of Mali
The economy of Mali is based to a large extent upon agriculture, with a mostly rural population engaged in subsistence agriculture.
Mali is among the ten poorest nations of the world, is one of the 37 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries, and is a major recipient of foreign aid from many sources, including multilateral organizations (most significantly the World Bank, African Development Bank, and Arab Funds), and bilateral programs funded by the European Union, France, United States, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany. Before 1991, the former Soviet Union, China and the Warsaw Pact countries had been a major source of economic and military aid.
The per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of Mali was $820 in 1999. Mali's great potential wealth lies in mining and the production of agricultural commodities, livestock, and fish. The most productive agricultural area lies along the banks of the Niger River, the Inner Niger Delta and the southwestern region around Sikasso. SectorsAgriculture
Agricultural activities occupy 70% of Mali's labour force and provide 42% of the GDP. Cotton and livestock make up 75%-80% of Mali's annual exports. Small-scale traditional farming dominates the agricultural sector, with subsistence farming (of cereals, primarily sorghum, pearl millet, and maize) on about 90% of the 14,000 square kilometres (1,400,000 ha; 3,500,000 acres) under cultivation. The most productive agricultural area lies along the banks of the Niger River between Bamako and Mopti and extends south to the borders of Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso. This area is most important for the production of cotton, rice, pearl millet, maize, vegetables, tobacco and tree crops. Fishing
The Niger River also is an important source of fish, providing food for riverside communities; the surplus—smoked, salted, and dried—is exported. Due to drought and diversion of river water for agriculture, fish production has steadily declined since the early 1980s. Mining and resources
Mining has long been an important aspect of the Malian economy. Gold, the third largest source of Malian exports, is still mined in the southern region: at the end of the 20th century Mali had the third highest gold production in Africa (after South Africa and Ghana). These goldfields, the largest of which lie in the Bambouk Mountains in western Mali (Kenieba Cercle), were a major source of wealth and trade as far back as the Ghana Empire. Gold has become Mali's third-largest export, after cotton—historically the basis of Mali's export industry—and livestock. While great incomes are produced, most staff employed in the mining industries are from outside Mali, and residents in the areas of intensive mining complain of little benefit from the industry. Other mining operations include kaolin, salt, phosphate, and limestone. Manufacturing
During the colonial period, private capital investment was virtually nonexistent, and public investment was devoted largely to the Office du Niger irrigation scheme and to administrative expenses. Following independence, Mali built some light industries with the help of various donors.
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