Iran purchases over 7 mln tons of wheat from domestic farmers

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 4

By Milad Fashtami - Trend:

Mehdi Kazemnejad, an official with Iran's Agriculture Ministry, said the government has purchased 7 million metric tons of wheat from domestic farmers since the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21).

"The figure was around 3.5 million metric tons in the same period of the previous year," IRNA news agency quoted him as saying on Oct. 4.

The Iranian government set up 712 centers to purchase wheat from farmers in 31 provinces.

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

Kazemnejad noted that the buying price of wheat may be low but the ministry assures the farmers that they will not face any problems in providing the necessary goods.

On Sept. 30, the Iranian MP Mohammad Esma'eelnia criticized the government for buying domestic farmers' wheat at a low price.

He said the government buys each kilogram of wheat for 11,550 rials (some $0.36 based on the exchange rate of US dollar at the free market), according to IRNA.

"The figure is only 10 percent more than in the previous year," he added.

Esma'eelnia went on to note that the rise is not in line with the country's inflation.

"The experts' calculations suggest that the fair price would be 13,000-13,500 rials," the MP said, advising the government to revise the price.

On Sept. 9, Iran's ambassador to Russia, Mehdi Sana'ee said his country is ready to import 10 million metric tons of wheat from Russia, according to IRNA.

Deputy Agricultural Jihad Minister Abbas Keshavarz said in August that Iran will not be able to reach self-sufficiency in wheat production in the next four years.

"The country's total production will reach 13.4 million metric tons by the end of the Iranian calendar year of 1397 (to end March 20, 2019)," ISNA news agency quoted him as saying Aug. 13.

"The country's wheat imports will also stand at 1.35 million metric tons by the end of the mentioned year," he said.

Producing 10.5 million metric tons of wheat, Iran reached self-sufficiency in wheat production in 2004.

But according to Iran's current president, Hassan Rouhani, the country's output has decreased by 1 million metric tons per year since 2004, and now Iran needs to import 7.2 million metric tons to meet its domestic demands.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Iran produced 14 million metric tons of wheat in the previous calendar year (ended March 20).

However, during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran reportedly submitted false reports to FAO with regard to the country's wheat output.

Isa Kalantari, the Secretary General of Iran's House of Farmers, previously said the country's domestic need stands at around 13 million metric tons.

This is even 1 million metric tons less than the announced production rate of the previous year, according to him.

However, the country imported considerable amount of wheat.

MP Seyed Razi Nouri said in Sept. 2013 that the country's wheat production fell to 3 million metric tons per year.

Iranian customs administration's reports suggest the country imported 3.5 and 6.7 million metric tons of wheat in the calendar years of 1392 (ended March 20, 2013) and 1391 (ended March 20, 2012), respectively.

Ahmadinejad administration put the production rate of the mentioned years at 13.5 and 14 million metric tons.

Meanwhile, Iran's wheat imports in the calendar year of 1390 (ended March 20, 2011) were around 233,000 metric tons. So the country's imports rose by 30 times in 1391.

Iran imported 1.4 million metric tons of wheat in the first two months of the current year (March 21 - May 20).

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