Iranian government pays off $164.5 million debt to wheat farmers

Iranian government pays off $164.5 million debt to wheat farmers

Tehran, Iran, Jul. 20

By Milad Fashtami - Trend:

Iranian government has paid off its 51-trillion-rials (some $164.5 million based on the exchange rate of USD at the free market) debt to wheat farmers.

Mohsen Maleki, director of special department for buying wheat, rice, and tea at Bank Sepah, said on July 20 that the government has purchased 4.8 million tons of wheat from domestic farmers from the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21) so far.

The figure shows 78 percent increase compared to the same period of time previous year, Iran's IRNA News Agency reported on July 9.

Deputy Industry, Mine, and Trade Minister Abbas Qobadi said that the government has paid for over 3.9 million tons of the mentioned amount.

"Wheat purchase in southern provinces of Bushehr and Hormozgan has been finished," he explained.

The Iranian government has reportedly launched 712 centers for purchasing wheat from farmers in 31 provinces.

By producing 10.5 million tons of wheat, Iran reached self-sufficiency in wheat production in 2004 and during the presidency of Mohammad Khataai. But according to Iran's current president, Hassan Rouhani, the country's output was decrease by one million ton per year since 2004 and now the country needs to import 7.2 million tons to meet its domestic demands.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Iran produced 14 million tons of wheat in the previous calendar year (which ended on March 20).

However, during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency Iran reportedly submitted false reports to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in regards to the country's wheat output.

Isa Kalantari, the secretary general of Iran's House of Farmers, previously said that the country's domestic need is around 13 million tons, which is even one million tons less than the announced production rate in previous year. However, the country imported considerable amount of wheat.

MP Seyed Razi Nouri said in September last year that the country's wheat production has fallen to 3 million tons per year.

Iran customs administration's reports suggest that Iran imported 3.5 and 6.7 million tons of wheat in the calendar years of 1392 (which ended on March 20, 2013) and 1391 (which ended on March 20, 2012), respectively. Ahmadinejad's administration had put the production rate of the mentioned years at 13.5 and 14 million tons.

It is while Iran's wheat imports in the calendar year of 1390 (ended March 20, 2011) were around 233,000 tons. So the country's imports were increased by 30 times in 1391.
Iran has imported 1.4 million tons of wheat in the first two months of the current year (March 21 - May 20).

Iranian media reports suggest that due to the low price, farmers are not willing to sell their wheat to the government and prefer to sell them to private.

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