French Sudan was a colonial territory of France in the Federation of French West Africa from 1880 until it became the sovereign state of Mali in 1960. Initially, it was established as a military project run by French troops but eventually became civilian-controlled in the 1890s. The country had close ties with France and in 1959, it formed the Mali Federation along with Senegal. In 1960, French Sudan became the Republic of Mali. From then on, its tight connections with both France and Senegal weakened.
French Sudan backed its agricultural sector with its irrigation projects initially dependent on family volunteers that settled in the colony. However, at the time of World War I, High Commissioner Emile Belime initiated a campaign for a massive irrigation system along the Niger River to support the cultivation of Egyptian cotton in West Africa. As the number of volunteers for agriculture was low, the territory started resettlement to the cotton project. In 1921, important irrigation projects commenced in Koulikoro and then in Baguineda-Camp. In 1926, the Office du Niger was established with the role of facilitating irrigation agricultural projects.
French Sudan used the French Sudanese franc as its currency which was at part with the French franc. Banknotes issued by the Bank of Senegal were in use in French West Africa including French Sudan until the Banque de l’Afrique Occidentale was formed in 1901 and began issuing banknotes.
In 1917, the colony experienced a severe shortage of coins because of World War I which prompted French West Africa to issue emergency 50-centime banknotes for French Sudan. The banknote depicts a 50-centime coin on the obverse and French text on the reverse. This banknote does not contain a security thread but has a watermark that either reflects a bee or a laurel leaf. The note also bears the signatures of the paymaster and lieutenant governor of the colony.