CHISINAU (Reuters) - Moldova has lifted its export ban for wheat and flour, its government said, amid pressure from the approaching new harvest and protests by farmers demanding a chance to move out the old crop to free up storage facilities.
The former Soviet republic imposed the ban on March 1 to guarantee enough domestic supply after Russia sent forces into neighbouring Ukraine, which affected shipping via Moldova's usual Black Sea export route by inflating freight costs.
Moldova's exportable surplus in the 2022/23 July-June marketing season will total 720,000 tonnes of wheat including the new crop and the remaining stockpile, its local association of grain exporters told Reuters.
The country exported 1.1 million tonnes of wheat in August 2021-February 2022 to the Middle East and Africa.
However, the actual amount of exports in the new season will depend on the availability of export routes.
Farmers in several regions of Moldova joined protests last week demanding the unblocking of exports before they start harvesting the new crop in coming days.
They also asked the government to help them boost railway supplies to Black Sea ports in neighbouring Romania and Bulgaria.
Moldova's 2022 wheat crop is expected at 900,000 tonnes, down from a record-high harvest of 1.7 million tonnes in 2021, due to dry weather in autumn and spring, according to its agriculture ministry.
About 380,000 tonnes of milling wheat from the new crop will be needed for domestic consumption this season, it added.
Moldova's grain storage capacity is currently almost full with 720,000 tonnes of wheat, maize and sunflower seeds.
(Reporting by Alexander Tanas, editing by Mark Heinrich)