Mali has indefinitely suspended exports of rice, maize and other grains to protect its national food supply, the minister of trade and industry said on Tuesday.

Mali is a major producer and exporter of grains to neighbouring countries, exporting around 10-15% of its production, according to the minister Mohamed Ould Mahmoud.

The suspension is due to a bad growing season this year and a shortage of rice and other grains on the international market, he told Reuters by phone.

“The suspension aims to anticipate the cereal crisis which is looming on the international market, to protect national production and the most disadvantaged segments (of the population),” he said.

The suspension came in to effect on Monday, according to a ministerial decree. It applies to local rice and maize, which make up the bulk of Mali’s cereal production, as well as cottonseed, cottonseed meal, millet and sorghum.

Mali produced 10.4 million tonnes of grains in the 2020/21 season, down 1% from the previous season, according to agriculture ministry statistics.

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