CIMMYT to help Iran increase wheat and maize output

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 4

By Fatih Karimov - Trend:

The International Center for Maize and Wheat Improvement (CIMMYT) will help Iran's Agriculture Ministry to increase wheat and maize production.

Iranian Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati held a meeting on May 3 in Tehran with CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin, Iran's Mehr news agency reported on May 4.

Wheat is a staple food in Iran. So, raising its output is vital for the Iranian nation, Hojjati said.

In the first stage, some 2.5 million hectares area of farmlands in the west of the country will be planted with genetically engineered wheat, he said.

The country has experienced decline over the past couple of years in wheat production, mainly due to the lack of cooperation with international organizations, he noted.

He also said that 2.5 million tons of maize is produced in the country, but the country needs some four million tonnes of maize per year for animal farming.

For his part, CIMMYT Director General Thomas A. Lumpkin, said $2 million will be allocated to the project.

CIMMYT is the world's premier center for research, development, and training in maize and wheat and in farming systems for those two essential food crops. From its headquarters in Mexico and offices throughout the developing world, the center works with partners worldwide to reduce poverty and hunger by increasing the productivity of maize and wheat cropping systems.

In January, Deputy Agricultural Jihad Minister Hossein Safaee said Iran needed to import 7.5 million tonnes of wheat in the past Iranian calendar year, which ended on March 20, Iranian Fars News Agency reported.

At that time, Majlis Research Center announced that the presented statistics by the previous administration in the agriculture sector were not accurate.

"The previous administration announced that some 13.5 million tonnes of wheat were produced in the country last year. Given that domestic consumption is around 10 million tonnes per year, Iran should have exported some 3.5 million tonnes of wheat, however, we found we will need to import 7.5 million tonnes in the current year to meet domestic demand," he noted.

During Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency Iran submitted false reports to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) regarding the country's wheat output.

FAO's report, which is based on the statistics provided by the Iranian government, suggests that Iran's wheat production was 14 million tonnes in 2013.

Iran's domestic wheat consumption is estimated at 12.5 million tonnes per year. So, based on FAO's report, the country didn't need to import any wheat. However, based on Iran's Customs Administration's official statistics, the country imported 6.7 million tons of wheat in the previous year. Tehran also plans to import seven million tonnes of wheat in the current year.

Isa Kalantari, the secretary general of Iran's House of Farmers, said that Ahmadinejad's administration submitted false reports to FAO. He says Iran produced only seven million tonnes of wheat in the previous year, but the administration raised the figure to 14 million tonnes in its report to FAO.

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