Iran’s rice imports five times more than necessary, MP says

Tehran, Iran, Oct. 25
By Milad Fashtami - Trend:

Iranian MP Mehrdad Baouj-Lahouti said that the country has imported 2.1 million metric tons of rice from the beginning of the current Iranian calendar year (March 21) so far.

"The figure is five times more than the country's total annual imports need," he said, Iran's Fars news agency reported on October 25.

"Iran annually needs to import only 400,000 metric tons of rice," he explained.

"If the government buys the domestic farmers' rice at a fair price for one or two years, the country will become needless of imports and can even start exporting rice," he said.

Deputy Head of Imports Commission of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture Mohammad-Reza Safa said on October 15 that Iranian government has banned rice and sugar imports to support domestic producers.

"Iranian producers' production cannot meet domestic demands, and we need to import. But currently, there are enough rice and sugar in the market, so we decided to ban imports," he said.

The country's rice output is expected to reach 2.4 million metric tons in the current Iranian calendar year.

Iran's fiscal year starts on March 21.

Gholamreza Khankeshipour, an official with the Rice Research Institute of Iran, said that the country's production capacity is between 2.2 to 2.4 million metric tons, Iran's IRIB news agency reported on September 24.

"This year the weather was good, so the production is expected to reach 2.4 million metric tons," he said.

He went on to note that the country's domestic production is around 2.8 million metric tons, so only 400,000 metric tons of rice needs to be imported.

Iran's IRNA news agency reported on September 21 that the Iranian government has purchased 2,000 metric tons of rice from domestic farmers in the past week.

In order to support domestic farmers, the government plans to buy some part of the farmers' crops.

The government has also increased the rice import tariff to 40 percent from the previous figure of 20 percent.

Iran plans to reach self-sufficiency in rice production in the coming years.

Iran was supposed to reach self-sufficiency in the rice production field by March 19, 2013, according to the Agriculture Jihad Ministry's plan, but officials announced that the plan needs another three years to be completed.

Meanwhile, Iran still depends on rice imports for its domestic consumption.

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