EghtesadOnline: About 81% and 70% of rice harvest in Mazandaran and Gilan provinces respectively were carried out using machinery in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2017), director general of Grains and Staple Foods Office with the Ministry of Agriculture said.
“The figures are estimated to increase to 86% for Mazandaran and 80% for Gilan in the current year. Mechanization expansion is done with the aim of increasing productivity and achieving self-sufficiency. A 100% automation of rice harvest is projected by the end of the sixth five-year development plan (2017-22),” Kaveh Khaksar was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The official added that this year out of the 185,000 hectares of paddy fields in Mazandaran, 38,000 hectares went under automated rice planting. In Gilan, mechanized rice planting was carried out over 95,000 hectares from the total of 238,000 hectares of paddy fields.
The five-year economic development plans are medium-term roadmaps designed by the government to help achieve sustainable growth, the strategies for which are outlined in its budget planning for the next five years, Financial Tribune reported.
Back in January, Kambiz Abbasi, an official with the Ministry of Agriculture, had said that the government of President Hassan Rouhani invested 6 trillion rials (about $156 million) on the mechanization of rice production, describing the investment as “unprecedented”.
According to the official, automation would cut rice harvesting costs by up to 70%.
“The government will cover about 80% of the costs of buying the machinery by granting loans with a 15% interest rate,” he said.
“In view of the water shortage in Iran, the administration is not willing to expand paddy fields in provinces other than the northern Mazandaran and Gilan.”
Jamil Alizadeh, the head of Iran Rice Council, said about 2.25 million tons of rice are estimated to be produced in Iran in the current year.
“This is almost the same amount as last year’s. If everything goes well and no unexpected frost or water shortage is experienced, this goal can be accomplished,” he said. Iranians consume about 3.2 million tons of rice a year while domestic production stands at around 2.2 million tons. Therefore, there is a need for around 1 million tons of imports every year.
The government periodically places a ban on imports during the harvest season to support local farmers.