Iranian cereals output up 10%

Azerbaijan, Baku, Dec.18/ Trend, F. Milad‎‏

Iran's cereals production so far has been ten percent more than in the previous year, the Agriculture Jihad minister said on Tuesday.

Iran is registering a new record for its agricultural output this year, Sadeq Khalilian said, the IRNA News Agency reported.

The country's oil seed output faced a 30% increase compared to the previous year, he said.

Director General of the Iran Cotton and Oil Seeds Organization, Mohammad-Reza Dargahi, said in September that some 300,000 tons of oil seeds will be produced across 200,000 hectares of lands during the current Iranian year (ending in March of 2013).

Iran's oil seeds output is expected to reach 1.2 million tons by the end of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2015).

Currently over 80% of the country's demand for oil seeds are imported from Malaysia, Brazil, and India. Iran plans to produce 70% of its oil seed demand domestically in the future.

Iran also plans to reach self-sufficiency in rice production during the next three years.

According to the Agriculture Jihad Ministry's plan, Iran was supposed to reach self-sufficiency in rice production by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 19, 2013), but officials recently announced that the plan needs some more 3 years to be completed, the ISNA News Agency reported.

Iran needs to import 500,000 tons of rice each year, Mehdi Kabuli, an official with the country's Agricultural Jihad Ministry said on December 12th.

Iran plans to produce over 2.4 million tons of rice during the current Iranian calendar year, which ends March 19th, 2013, Kabuli said.

The annual rice consumption in Iran stands around 2.8 million tons so we only need to import less than 500,000 tons of rice this year, he stated.

Referring to the fact that Iran is currently importing more than the country's needs, he went on to note that the agriculture ministry plans to store the rice for future use and there is no need for farmers to worry.

"The quality and price of Iranian rice is very reasonable, farmers can easily sell their products," he added.

Based on reports published earlier this month, Iran has imported 775,000 tons of rice, valued at $758 million, in the first eight months of the current Iranian calendar year, which began on March 20.

India, the United Arab Emirates, and Pakistan were the main exporters of rice to Iran.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Iran's state grain buyer continues to build its strategic stocks in light of increased international prices and concerns about domestic food security. Reports indicate that in September of 2012, Iran made large purchases of cereals on the international market. Discussions are underway regarding specific trading partners.

Facing budgetary concerns, the Government attempted to phase out the subsidy program. Although some subsidies for staples (milk, bread, rice, vegetables and yoghurt) remain in place, food prices have generally increased.

The latest official information available from the Central Bank that was published for the period between March 21 and April 20, 2012, indicates that the food and beverage price inflation reached 33 percent relative to the same period in 2011, and 5.3% relative to the preceding month in 2012. The year on year increase in 2011 for the same period was 25.3 percent.

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