EghtesadOnline: Agricultural output increased by a strong 15.4% after President Hassan Rouhani took office in August 2013, growing from 97 million tons that year (Iranian fiscal year 1392 from March 2013-14), to 112 million tons in the last Iranian year (ended March 2016).
It is estimated that production will reach 117 million tons by the end of the current year (March 2017), according to Shahrokh Ramezan-Nejad, an advisor to the minister of agriculture.
"The agriculture sector grew 5.4% last fiscal year and the trade balance narrowed from minus $8.1 billion three years ago, to $3.4 billion last year. Total value of agricultural products in Iran last year amounted to 2.1 quadrillion rials (more than $59.3 billion), marking a 39% increase compared to three years ago," IRNA quoted Ramezan-Nejad as saying.
According to data released by the Statistical Center of Iran, the agriculture sector recorded a 4% growth during the first four months of the current fiscal year (March 21-July 21) compared to the same period in 2015.
Production of crops and horticultural products increased from 68 million and 16 million tons three years ago to 81 million and 17 million tons last year respectively. Moreover livestock and poultry production increased by 1 million tons to reach 13 million tons during the same period. Seafood production stood at 1 million tons last year, up from 900,000 tons three years ago, according to Financial Tribune.
According to Ramezan-Nejad, $2 billion worth of horticultural products are now exported annually and Iran has turned from an importer of chicken in 2013 to an exporter.
Last year the government purchased 8.08 million tons of wheat from local farmers, whereas the figure was 4.8 million tons the year Rouhani took office. So far this year, more than 11.2 million tons of the grain has been purchased and it is estimated that production will exceed a record high of 13 million tons.
Sugar beet production rose from 3.4 million tons to 5.6 million tons during the period, registering a 64% increase and extracted sugar amounted to 1.5 million tons last year, 380,000 tons above the volume three years ago, which resulted in a 37% decrease in sugar import.
The ministry says it has plans to achieve 70% self-sufficiency in the production of oil seeds. According to a report by the Government Trading Corporation, 66,000 tons of colza was purchased from local farmers since the beginning of the harvest season in March.
Moreover, 65,000 tons of sunflower seeds and 1,000 tons of safflower was bought during the same period and purchasing of soybeans by the government will start in September.
The government buys crops at guaranteed prices from local farmers to build up its strategic reserves and control prices in the domestic market. It encourages oilseeds cultivation, in particular, as part of its broader goal to limit the import of vegetable oil. According to the Agricultural Ministry, 90% of domestic demand for unprocessed vegetable oil and oilseed meal is met through imports.