EghtesadOnline: Rice cultivation is only permitted in the two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran and will be gradually banned in other Iranian provinces over the next three years, as per the directive newly approved by the government and communicated to related bodies after it was approved by the Committee for Adaptability to Water Shortage.
“The Agriculture Ministry will introduce alternative crops for cultivation in other provinces instead of rice, the abidance by which will be obligatory,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Ali Morad Akbari has been quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
The official noted that Iran has about 630,000 hectares of paddy fields, 170,000 hectares of which are located in Gilan and Mazandaran.
The measure is being undertaken due to water shortage facing the country, Financial Tribune reported.
Iranians consume 3.2 million tons of rice a year, of which more than 2.2 million tons are supplied by domestic farmers and the rest are procured through imports. India is the biggest exporter of the grain to Iran, followed by Pakistan, Thailand and Uruguay.
Every year and during the rice harvest season, the government bans rice imports in support of local farmers and domestic production.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced last month that the ban on rice imports will be postponed this year. Importers now have until Sept. 22 to go through customs clearance, the news portal of the Trade Promotion Organization of Iran reported.