Unprecedented rice imports worry business in Iran

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 25

By Mehdi Sepahvand – Trend:

Rice dealers in Iran are becoming increasingly worried as unbridled imports of rice continue to pose a serious threat to their profits.

Over the first half of the current Iranian fiscal year (which started March 21), 1.054 million tons of rice was imported to the country. This shows a near twofold number compared to the imported rice of the same period last year, when 565,000 tons of rice was imported.

This is the official Iran Customs Administration statistics. However, there has been word that more than this amount is the case.

Seyyed Razi Nouri, a member of the parliament’s Agriculture Commission, said unofficial reports indicate a rice import amount of 1.8 million tons in the six months of this year, adding if the reports are true, then Iranian farmers have been wronged.

In the current crop year, Iranian farmers also harvested 2.3 million tons of rice, a new record in the country that included an 8 percent improvement year-on-year.

The annual rice demand in Iran hovers around 3 million tons.

Asked if prices have fallen sharply following the huge boost in production and import, a rice shop keeper identifying himself as Hassan said the real change is still to come and he and others in the business are preparing for that situation.

“We should not forget that we have the Shabe Yalda (a traditional Iranian occasion similar to Thanksgiving, falling on December 21) as well as the New Year’s Eve (March 20),” he said, explaining that on such occasions, a great load of rice is directed toward the market which will enforce lower prices.

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