Iran pays off debts to domestic wheat farmers as farming year ends

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 18

By Milad Fashtami - Trend:

Iranian government paid off its 71-trillion-rials (some $2.21 billion 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 October 18 that the government totally purchased 6.696 million metric tons of wheat from domestic farmers in the current farming year, Iran's IRNA News Agency reported on October 18.

"Khuzestan, Fars, and Kermanshah provinces produced the most amount of whet this year, while Gilan province produced the least figure," he explained.

MP Mohammad Esma'eelnia on September 30 criticized Iranian government for buying domestic farmers' wheat at low price.

Deputy Chairman of Iran's Majlis (Parliament) Commission of Agriculture said the government buys each kilograms of wheat at the price of 11,550 rials (some $0.36 based on the exchange rate of US dollar at the free market), Iran's IRNA News Agency reported.

"The figure is only 10 percent more than previous year," he said.

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

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

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 buyers.

Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Mehdi Sana'ee said on September 9 that his country is ready to import 10 million metric tons of wheat from Russia, Iran's IRNA News Agency reported.

Deputy Agricultural Jihad Minister Abbas Keshavarz said in August that Iran will not be able to reach self-sufficiency on 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)," he said, Iran's ISNA News Agency reported on August 13.

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

By producing 10.5 million metric 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 metric ton per year since 2004 and now the country needs to import 7.2 million metric tons to meet its domestic demands.

According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Iran produced 14 million metric 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 metric tons, which is even one million metric 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 metric tons per year.

Iran customs administration's reports suggest that Iran imported 3.5 and 6.7 million metric 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 metric tons.

It is while 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 were increased 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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