Iran’s rice imports fall sharply

Baku, Azerbaijan, May 5

By Umid Niayesh - Trend:

Iran's rice imports started to fall for first time in recent months and stood at less than 90,000 tonnes in the first Iranian calendar month of Farvardin (March 21-April 20).

The country imported $95 million worth of rice in the period which indicates a significant fall of 28.95 percent compared to the same month of last Iranian calendar year (ended on March 20), according to the Iranian Custom Administration's latest monthly report released on May 5.

Iran imported 1.956 million tonnes of rice, worth $2.301 billion in the past Iranian calendar year. Imports of rice rose 50.86 percent in volume and 74.62 percent in value year on year, the Iranian Customs Administration said in its annual report.

Iran's basmati rice imports from India have slumped sharply since January 2014 due to health concerns, according to the Indian media outlets. India's basmati exports to Iran, which in fiscal year 2014(FY14) accounted for 40 percent of the its total exports of the speciality grain, dropped from 130,000 tonnes in January 2014 to 89,387 tonnes in February and further to 55, 210 tonnes in March, as per data furnished by the All India Rice Exporters' Association (AIREA).

However India was still the leading exporter to Iran in last Iranian calendar month with exporting some 45,100 tonnes of rice, valued at $61,900 accounting for 50.22 percent of the Iran's total rice imports in volume and 65.2 percent of imports in value respectively.

Thailand and the UAE ranked second and third with exporting 33,700 tonnes of rice and 6,700 tonnes of rice to Iran respectively during the first month of current Iranian calendar year.

Iranian officials have reportedly claimed that the rice that is imported to the country from India has high levels of heavy metals, including arsenic. Tehran insists that Indian exporters of basmati must get stamps of quality approval from a multiplicity of designated global agencies, according to Indian Financial Express newspaper.

Iranian authorities have been asking India's exporters since January 2014 to furnish a series of documents on good agricultural practices (GAP), ISO 22000, which deals with food safety management and packaging protocols, besides the "non-genetically modified crop" certification.

Iran produced some 2.25 million tonnes of rice in the previous year. Earlier, the director of the Iranian rice producers association, Jamil Alizadeh Shayeq criticized rice imports into the country saying that if the current trend continues, the country's imports would be way more than domestic needs and that will cause great problems for the domestic rice farmers.

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