MALI – Mali’s cereal output fell to 9.9 million metric tons in the 2023/24 farming season from 10.2 million in the previous year, a 3% drop according to provisional data provided by Prime Minister Choguel Maiga

This level is below the targets set by the Ministry of Agriculture at the start of the campaign, predicting cereal harvest at 10.9 million tonnes.

Mali is the second largest producer of grasses in West Africa behind Nigeria with a consumption of about 5.4 million tons of grain. It is also one of the main players in the cross-border grain trade in West Africa and exports between 10 and 15% of its harvest according to government data.

In addition, agricultural activities represent approximately 33 percent of Mali’s GDP and employ nearly 80 percent of Malians.

Its agricultural season runs from April to April, with a production phase that starts in May or June and ends in September or October.

Earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture had projected 2023/24 corn production to reach 4.1 million tons while that of rice was expected at 3 million tons. Meanwhile, sorghum and millet volumes were expected to reach 1.7 million tonnes and 1.9 million tonnes respectively

According to the authorities, these positive prospects were attributed to an expansion of the areas planted, better weather conditions as well as an effective mechanism for the distribution of fertilizers to producers.

However, the latest report from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) for the period October 2023-May 2024, indicated that poorly distributed rainfall in June and July, which delayed planting and crop development.

Added to this are the low rainfall in September, poor access to fertilizers, particularly for rice cultivation, which accounts for nearly a third of the total cereal supply, as well as insecurity in the centre and north of the country.

Balla Keita, an official from the Ministry of Agriculture, however, told Reuters that the numbers were still provisional.

With the decline in strategic crops, the country seeks to reinforce a restrictive policy on exports of millet, sorghum, corn and local rice to ensure the availability of these basic foodstuffs on the domestic market.

In addition to these measures, the authorities have authorized imports of rice at halved taxes up to 300,000 tonnes. 

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