Iran’s rice import hikes despite official ban
Baku, Azerbaijan, Nov. 18
By Umid Niayesh- Trend:
Rice imports in Iran registered a rise by 1282 percent in terms of volume during the seventh Iranian calendar month of Mehr (Sept.23-Oct. 22), despite the legal ban.
Iran imported 1.1 million tons of rice, worth $35.6 million during that period, according to the country's customs administration report.
The figure has almost doubled, compared to the total rice imported in the first seven months of current Iranian fiscal year, which started March 21.
Tehran imported 1.49 million tons of rice in the 7-month period, 99.4 percent more, year on year, according to the customs administration's latest monthly report.
India was the top rice exporter to Iran in the period with 1.385 million tons of exports.
Significant fall of the imported rice in the past month also has raised doubts about the quality of the rice which recently entered Iran's market.
The average price of the imported rice in the first half of the current Iranian year stood at one dollar per kilogram meanwhile it fell to $0.3 in the 7-month period.
Due to surplus amount of stored rice from past years a ban was imposed on rice imports this year.
However there is still need to import to meet total domestic consumption, Kaveh Khaksar, an official with the country's agricultural ministry said earlier.
Iran harvested 1.8 million tons of rice this year, some 150,000 tons more year-on-year, the official added.
Iran's yearly rice consumption stands at some 3 million tons.
Last year Iranian MP Mehrdad Baouj-Lahouti said that the country imported five times more rice than the country's total import need.
Last July Ahmad Behhaq, head of the Iranian rice importers association said that rice worth $302 million was imported illegally to Iran in the first four months of the current Iranian fiscal year.
Iran was supposed to reach self-sufficiency in the rice production field by March, 2013, according to the agriculture ministry's plan, but officials announced that the plan needs another three years to be completed.