EghtesadOnline: The government will invest about 15 trillion rials (nearly $395.5 million) in agricultural mechanization in the current Iranian year (March 2017-18), 25% more compared with last year’s investment, the head of the Agricultural Mechanization Expansion Center with the Ministry of Agriculture announced.
“Of the total sum, about $211 million, $80 million, $40 million, $20 million and $10.5 million will be dedicated to the fields of farming, horticulture, livestock and poultry, fisheries and seafood, and medicinal herbs respectively,” Kambiz Abbasi was also quoted as saying by ILNA.
The official added that since President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013, a total of 52.5 trillion rials (over $1.38 billion) worth of investments have gone into the mechanization of different fields of agriculture.
The share of mechanized rice farming has risen from 12.5% to 80% over the past four years, as the number of rice combines in Iran’s paddy fields has risen from 1,000 to 5,600 during the period, Financial Tribune reported.
“The incumbent government has invested a record high of 6 trillion rials (about $156 million) in the mechanization of rice production,” he said.
“Mechanization has helped lower costs of production and harvest by 60% and 70% respectively and increase productivity. Pre-harvest, harvest and post-harvest stages of rice production in 250,000 hectares of paddy fields have become automated over the past four years.”
According to Abbasi, about 95% of Iran’s agricultural machinery are produced domestically and the rest is imported.
“Between 25% and 30% of Iran’s agricultural machinery have been repaired or renovated since the beginning of Hassan Rouhani’s presidency,” he said.
Old machinery used in this sector is the main culprit contributing to agricultural waste, which is said to cost Iran’s economy over $5 billion per annum.
The volume of agricultural waste in Iran is twice the global average. Currently, up to 30% of agro products go to waste in the country during the pre-harvest, harvest, post-harvest and supply stages, IRNA reported.
According to Food and Agricultural Organization, 1.3 billion tons of food, mainly fruit, vegetables, fish and grains, are wasted globally every year and Iran is responsible for 2.7% of it, equal to about 35 million tons of the total sum.
“Thanks to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the formal name of the nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers in 2015), renowned brands of rice planting machinery, heavy tractors, combines and orchard tractors were imported to Iran last year,” Abbasi said.
Most of the imports came from Germany, Italy, France, South Korea and Japan.
According to Deputy Agriculture Minister Alimorad Akbari, the government plans to invest some 33 trillion rials ($870 million) to modernize irrigation systems across the country this year.