Baku, Azerbaijan, June 28
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iran's tea output has sharply decreased recently as the foreign tea gradually replaces domestic product, Iraj Housemi, the head of the association of Iranian tea farmers, said.
Annually some 130,000 metric tons of tea are consumed in the country, while domestic farmers only provided the market with 13,000 metric tons of tea last fiscal year (ended on March 20), Housemi said.
Meanwhile, domestic tea has recently accounted for 50-60 percent of the country's consumption, he added.
Iran's tea output decreased by 81 percent from 70,000 metric tons in 2001 to 13,000 last fiscal year, Housemi said, Iran's Fars news agency reported June 28.
Housemi said that smuggling of foreign tea into the country and a significant drop in the quality of domestic tea are main reasons of the fall.
He further forecasted that the output will experience even more decrease in the current fiscal year (to end on March 2016) as a result of drought.
Iran has been storing thousands of metric tons of domestic tea in warehouses since the 2000's, because it wasn't popular among Iranians, who didn't like its taste. The stored tea, after 7-8 years, was sold at very low prices at various tenders, and which should mostly used as compost and fertilizer.
Housemi said that there are still some 50,000 metric tons of expired tea in Iran's warehouses, which has been stored for several years.
Earlier Parviz Shabani, an official with the association of Iranian tea farmers, said some 100,000 tons of tea are smuggled into Iran per year, which causes tea farmers problems in selling their product.
He also said that among a total of 180 tea factories in Iran, only 80 of them currently work and that is at a minimum capacity.
In June 2011, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that Iran is the world's fifth largest importer of tea after Russia, the UAE, the UK and US.
Referring to the two-fold increase in Iran's tea imports in the past 20 years, the FAO said that Iran imports some 75,000 tons of tea worth $280 million each year.
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