Iran continue to import rice from Pakistan, India amid health concerns
Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 17
By Fatih Karimov– Trend:
India and Pakistan remain as top rice exporters to Iran amid concerns over the arsenic contamination of the imported rice.
Rice worth $963 million topped the list of Iran's imported goods during the first five months of the current fiscal year (started March 20), according to the latest statistics of the Iranian Customs Administration. The figure is 102 percent more compared to the preceding year.
The value of imported rice surpassed 1 million tons or 79 percent from year to year.
According to the customs administration report, India and Pakistan were the top rice exporters to Iran in the period, followed by the UAE and Thailand.
Some Iranian officials have expressed concerns about the safety of the rice varieties imported from India and Pakistan.
Seyyed Ahsan Alavi, an Iranian MP told Tasnim news agency Sept. 17 that the rice which is imported from India and Pakistan into Iran is contaminated with arsenic.
He said that import of the contaminated rice has recently continued despite the warnings.
Alavi urged Institute of Standards & Industrial Research of Iran to clarify the issue, provide a detailed report and submit it to the parliament.
It is not the first time that the Iranian MPs warn about import of rice from Pakistan and India, which has high levels of arsenic.
Food security is a serious matter for Iran given its population, which has grown to over 80 million, while the country’s food basket is shrinking.
Iran’s rice production stood at 1.8 million tons in 2015. The figure is expected to hit 2.6 million tons this year. According to the officials, however the country still depends on rice imports for its domestic consumption.
Iran’s total consumption stands at over 3.2 million tons per year.