EghtesadOnline: The temporary ban on rice imports has been lifted from Nov. 22 up until July 22, 2018, as per a directive by the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade issued on Tuesday.
Every year and during the rice harvest season, the government bans rice imports in support of local farmers and production. Import tariffs have increased from 22% four years ago to 40% at present for the same reason.
Iranians consume 3 million tons of rice a year while domestic production stands at 2.2 million tons. Therefore, there is need for around 800,000 tons of imports every year.
“We need imports, but imports that are limited and controlled,” Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hojjati was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
According to Financial Tribune, more than 1.05 million tons of semi- and wholly-milled rice worth close to $996 million were imported into Iran during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22), registering an 84.4% and 108.4% surge in weight and value respectively compared with the corresponding period of last year.
Rice imports accounted for 6% and 4.2% of the volume and value of Iran’s overall imports respectively during the six-month period.
Rice importers bypass the ban during the harvest season by receiving the import permit before the ban period.
Imports are made mainly from the UAE, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Iraq.
The southern Vietnamese city of Can Tho expects to export its first batch of rice to Iran in the last quarter of 2017, deputy director of the city’s Department of Industry and Trade said last month.
Huynh Trung Tru also said a company in Iran in August directly dealt with a rice firm in Can Tho to finalize a contract to export to Iran 100,000 tons of rice from now until the end of the year.
According to Tru, if rice shipment to Iran meets favorable conditions, the city hopes that the partner will sign a longer term contract next year.
Iran’s state grains buyer Government Trading Corporation has issued an international tender earlier this month to buy 30,000 tons of rice to be sourced from India. The tender closes on Dec. 12. The rice is sought in three consignments of 10,000 tons for shipment in early 2018.
The Agriculture Ministry expects domestic rice production to increase by 10-15% in the current Iranian year (started March 21), because of favorable weather condition and timely distribution of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, machinery and equipment among local farmers.
According to the Central and West Asia Rice Center, with around 54% of Central and West Asia’s paddy fields located in Iran, the country accounts for 61% of the regions’ combined rice production.
The two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran are home to a majority of Iran’s paddy fields.
A total of 81% and 70% of rice harvest in the two provinces respectively were mechanized in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2017).