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EghtesadOnline: The office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Iran began a technical cooperation program called "Capacity Building for Increasing Sustainable Oilseed Production Focused on Soybean Value" in a workshop held in Tehran earlier this month, which will be carried out over two years (2017-19), the office said in a press release on Wednesda

The main objectives of the project include building capacity in the public and private sectors for using innovative methods in producing sustainable crops and applying the methods to the oilseed value chain as well as integrating the latest technologies into cereal-based production systems.

The program was created to enable FAO to make its know-how and technical expertise available to member countries upon request, drawing from its own resources. It provides assistance in all areas pertaining to FAO’s mandate and competence that are covered by the Strategic Framework to respond to governments’ priority needs. TCP projects catalyze change, foster capacity development and assist countries in mobilizing resources, in line with the Country Programming Frameworks agreed to with governments.

During the workshop Alireza Mohajer advisor to agriculture minister and  director of the so called "National Oilseed Project" said 95% of the domestic demand (1.5 million tons) for vegetable oils is met through imports, according to Financial Tribune.

"The government is planning to meet 70% of the domestic demand from local production," he said without providing details.

Highlighting the importance of this project for food security in Iran, Fabio Grita, the FAO representative in Iran said: "The objective is to reduce the dependency on foreign countries in this respect by producing part of the need for oilseeds in Iran. The project will be bringing here [Iran] experts from FAO and different countries, and build cooperation with international organizations specialized in oilseed production. "

Domestic demand for raw vegetable oil stands at about 1.5 million tons per year, according to the manager of Oilseeds Project carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“This year, the government is planning to purchase 400,000 tons of oilseeds from local farmers, from which close to 120,000 tons of raw vegetable oil will be produced. This will meet 8% of domestic demand, up from 5% the year before,” Mohajer was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency. The current fiscal year started in March.   

The official said colza production will reach 200,000 tons this year -- a threefold increase compared to the year before.

Alongside colza, soybeans, safflower and sunflower seeds are being cultivated in the country. Last year, close to 135,000 tons of soybeans were produced, registering a 60% increase compared with the previous year. Mohajer estimated that 15,000 tons of safflower would be produced this year. “About 250,000 tons of sesame and cotton seeds are expected to be produced. The two crops are not in the government’s guaranteed purchase program.

Every year, the government buys strategic crops, including oilseeds from local farmers at guaranteed prices, to build up its strategic reserves and control prices in the domestic market.

FAO Iran-FAO Iran agriculture Iran soybeans Iran Oilseed