Iran to produce 2.2 million tons of rice
Azerbaijan, Baku, Jun.11/ Trend R.Zamanov
Iran plans to produce 2.2 million tons of rice in the current Iranian calendar year which ends March 21, 2014, an official with Iran's Rice Guild Association said on Tuesday.
Currently farmers are planting rice in 630,000 hectares across the country, the ISNA News Agency quoted Jalil Alizadeh Shayeq as saying.
Some 520,000 hectares of the aforementioned amount have sufficient water, he explained.
Iran plans to reach self-sufficiency in rice production in the next three years.
According to the Agriculture Jihad ministry's plan, Iran was supposed to reach self-sufficiency in the rice production field by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (March 19, 2013), but officials recently announced that the plan needs another three years to be completed, the ISNA News Agency reported.
Meanwhile Iran still depends on rice imports for its domestic consumption. The country's annual rice consumption is around 2.8 million tons.
Based on the latest statistics released by Iran's Customs Administration, rice was the main imported item in the first two months of the current year. Iran imported 359 million dollars' worth of rice in that period.
A member of Iran's Parliament (Majlis) Health Commission, Hassan Ta'mini said last week that some of the imported rice is certainly contaminated with chemicals like Arsenic.
Importing contaminated rice is a serious problem, the Khabaronline website quoted Ta'mini as saying.
Majlis has warned the Health Ministry and the Agricultural jihad ministries about the contaminated rice, but unfortunately nothing has been done and it is being offered on the markets, the lawmaker explained.
It is not the first time the government imports contained contaminated rice from Pakistan and India, Ta'mini added.
Previously Massoumeh Ebtekar, the sitting chairperson of the Tehran City Council Environmental Commission confirmed that imported rice is contaminated with Arsenic.
Head of Iran's Rice Guild Association said in December that the imported Indian rice may be contaminated with chemicals like Arsenic.
There are rumours that the Indian Basmati rice which have been imported recently are contaminated with chemicals and some Indian officials have implicitly confirmed the claim, the Mehr News Agency quoted him as saying.
"The government should conduct the necessary tests as soon as possible," he added.