||Maize is one of the three most important staple foods in Mali. Zones in the country with high potential for producing maize are limited to areas where the probability of drought risk is between 20 and 40%, meaning that recurring droughts have long handicapped maize production. In an attempt to alleviate drought stress on maize production, a household survey was conducted in the two Local Government Areas of Bougouni and Koutiala, both in the Sikasso Region, during the 2007/2008 production period. These two districts were selected following an environmental characterization of drought zones in Mali. The survey was mainly oriented towards maize based farming systems. Six sample villages were selected within each of the two districts. The sample population was defined as maize farming households. A total of 150 households were randomly selected and interviewed with structured questionnaires. Interviews were conducted by trained enumerators using a formal household survey. The purpose of the study is to provide both quantitative and qualitative feedback from farmers to researchers and to the B&MGF on the impact that improved maize varieties developed in the past have had upon the livelihoods of households and to provide a detailed database for the projection of expected outcomes with the deployment of new drought tolerant maize varieties under the B&MGF drought tolerant maize project. Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were used to extract from our set of variables those orthogonal linear combinations of the variables that best captured the common information. Most successful was the one proposed by Filmer and Pritchett (1998; 2001) called the Principal Component Analysis (PCA). To assess the variables affecting the adoption of improved maize varieties, the Tobit model was used. The results show that 99% of household heads are male. The size of a household is 22 persons, on average. About 47% of the household’s members are available for farm work. About 59% of household heads are illiterate, an important factor concerning the adoption of new technology. These household heads make decisions about 84% of farming activities; 86% of the households involved in the study belonged to at least one farmers’ organization in order to have easy access to inputs. This high rate is largely due to a cotton development service that has been working with farmers in this zone since colonial times. The service provides credit and inputs to village associations, but access to inputs is not allowed to individual households. In the survey area, in addition to dwellings, households generally have access to different assets such as bicycles, motorcycles, radios, tractors, wheelbarrows, animal-drawn plows, harrows, and scotch carts, private wells, tractor-drawn plows, and harrows, motor vehicles, solar energy, water pumps, diesel pumps, water tanks, cultivators, mobile phones, fixed phones, and television sets. Access to some of these assets, (motor vehicles, tractors, diesel pumps, water tanks, solar energy and generators) is limited to well endowed households. For the entire study area, the distribution of the wealth index ranking of households based on their productive capital assets indicates that 56.4% of households are poorly endowed. This tendency is corroborated by the study Observatoire du développement humain durable au Mali 2007/2008. Land ownership is positively related to the wealth status of the households, with the well endowed group possessing a larger share of land, both in total area and by land use type. Because of increased input prices (fertilizer, seeds, and insecticide), the collapse of the cotton market, drought and declining soil fertility, farmers are having difficulty coping and farm acreage is becoming smaller over time. The average household acreage is currently about 18.71 ha, divided into abandoned, pasture, fallow, and cultivated lands. The determinants of cultivated farm size range in decreasing order as follows: family food needs, family labor availability, expected cereal prices, cash availability to purchase inputs, availability of farm equipment, cash availability to hire labor, current cereal prices and seed availability, pulling out of cotton production, drought and declining soil fertility. Livestock production is incorporated into livestock ownership. Like crop production, this activity also needs some land. The distribution of mean livestock ownership by wealth group indicates that the well endowed households possess, on average, herds of 29 cattle, 10 goats, 11 sheep, 3 draft animals, and 6 pigs. The less endowed households have an average of 13 cattle, 4 goats, 5 sheep, 2 draft animals, and 2 pigs. Among resource-poor households, access to credit is important at an appropriate time for farm activities and to cope with food shortages and other problems such as health care, wedding payments, and taxes. The results indicate that there is good access to credit in the study area, with 81.2% of households having access. More than half of the households (58.1%) have access to financial institutions for production credit and 66.7% have access for consumption credit. Other sources of financial assistance are relatives, NGOs, neighbors, moneylenders, and Government programs. Support in favor of consumption credit is obtained from neighbors and relatives in essentially the same proportion (37.5%). Access to field demonstrations is quite low in general in the study area. This indicates a need for an increase in field demonstrations. Field demonstrations are organized in descending order by the cotton development service (33%), seed companies (23%), extension services (13%), research institutions (12%), other development services (10%), and NGOs (9%). In general in rural areas, the basic source of livelihood is producing crops, rearing livestock, and marketing the agricultural produce derived from these activities. Producing crops and raising livestock depend on an underlying condition of access to land, either by possessing it or getting it from others. Access to land is fundamental to crop and livestock production. According to the land area distribution among crops, the major crops grown are maize (26%), sorghum (23%), millet (20%), cotton (13%), groundnut (8%), rice (5%), and cowpea (3%). Some other minor crops such as potato, sesame, yam, and cassava are also cultivated by a few people. Most of these crops are produced either for family consumption or for sale or both. The farm family’s land area distribution among crops is based on the family’s needs or objectives. Non-seed inputs used by household in the selected districts include NPK, urea, organic manure, herbicides, and insecticides. The different sources of crop inputs are Compagnie Malienne pour le Développement des Textiles (CMDT), traders, Association Villageoise (AV), Sasakawa Global 2000, cooperatives, and other producers. Dembanyuman is the most common improved maize cultivar planted by households in the study districts, (50% of the cultivated area), followed by Sotubaka (41.5%). Crop seeds come from different sources but are most commonly collected from farm production (48%). Other sources are other producers (22%), National Seed Service (20%), cooperatives (18%), market (15%), and CMDT (13%). The adoption of improved maize cultivars is computed as the proportion of land allocated to improved maize varieties. At 5% level of significance, the Tobit regression model results show that the major factors influencing the adoption of improved maize varieties are the availability of family labor and household location. According to the results, factors such as the age of the household head, (Hhage), farm size (Fsize in ha), membership of farmers’ associations/cooperatives (Fasst), and access to public or private extension services (Ext) have little or no influence on the adoption of an improved maize variety in the study area. Crop disposal results indicate that the greatest proportion goes to family consumption, followed by sales. Households draw their income from farming (crop and livestock production and marketing) and off-farm activities. These range from grain, seeds, and fruit sales, animal and fish sales, and petty trading, to salaries, self-employment, and other sources of income. The expenditure patterns of households range from spending on basic food to tobacco, cola nuts, school fees, health care, clothing, and fuelwood, to social contributions, sending money to others, etc. Farmers in the region commonly express the opinion that “life is not easy” and “life is a battle.” The shocks experienced in the study areas include drought, flood, large increases in input prices, death or loss of livestock, illness or handicap of the household head or spouse, drastic decreases in crop prices, death of the household head or spouse, plant pests and diseases, livestock diseases, dangerous weeds, etc. While facing shocks, households in the study area also engineer positive livelihood outcomes, such as increasing agricultural production, improving the health status of household members, increasing food security, reducing agricultural production risks, increasing access to land, improving revenue and reducing income risk, reducing trade risk, improving the formal education level of household members, and improving employment opportunities. These are strategies tending to alleviate the effect of shocks. Local maize, open pollinated (OPV) maize, and hybrid maize are seen as the most risky crops in terms of yield fluctuation. When yield is below normal, the coping mechanism suggested for all crops is to increase the land area or keep it unchanged. The only situation where farmers do not increase the land area is when fertilizer is unavailable or expensive. In this situation, farmers tend to reduce the land area or keep it unchanged for all crops. Land area reduction is the coping mechanism least often employed to handle risk. The two most cited coping adjustments in the crop portfolio to mitigate selected production risks are diversification in general and cultivated variety diversification for all crops. For the majority of households in the area, price does not seem to be the determining factor in the quantity of crops to be sold. Fewer than 50% of households in all cases cited this factor. The same behavior was observed in acquiring more credit if the selling price of OPV maize, hybrid maize, cotton, sorghum, or millet was attractive. In the case of attractive selling prices, households in both LGAs attempted to increase their input use or keep it unchanged. Very few seek to decrease their input use. If product prices decrease, the great majority of households are more likely to sell more assets. If local product prices increase, almost all said they would buy more assets.