EghtesadOnline: A total of 50,309 tons of green tea leaves produced during the spring harvest have been purchased by the government from local farmers at 1.58 trillion rials ($12.39 million).
This shows an 18% rise compared with the volume of purchases during the similar period of last year, according to the executive manager of Iran’s Tea Factories Syndicate.
“Close to 11,320 tons of processed tea were produced from this volume of green tea leaves,” Mohammad Sadeq Hassani was also quoted as saying by ILNA on Monday.
The official noted that the summer harvest will begin in a few days, according to Financial Tribune.
Tea undergoes three harvests a year: the spring harvest that starts in late April, the second in summer begins early June and the last one is in autumn and starts late September.
Haassani noted that at present, 76 tea factories are involved in the guaranteed purchase plan of green tea leaves.
The government has a guaranteed purchase system in place for many crops, including tea, to build up its strategic reserves and control prices in the domestic market.
Tea is cultivated in Iran’s northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran where 50,000 families earn their living from tea farming on more than 25,000 hectares.
According to Mohammad Avli Rouzbehan, the former head of Iran Tea Organization, Iranian tea is 100% natural and pesticide-free.
About 95% of tea orchards in Iran are rain-fed. These orchards are usually located on hilltops where the extreme cold terminates a majority of the pests and the rest are dealt with through biological methods.
“A total of 16,326 tons of tea worth more than $19 million were exported from Iran to 37 countries during the last Iranian year (March 2018-19), which shows an 11.4% and 2.3% rise in weight and value respectively compared with the previous year,” Habibollah Jahansaz, the head of Iran Tea Organization, said.
The main export destinations, according to Jahansaz, were India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Canada, Australia, Spain, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Georgia.
“At present, nearly 200,000 people in Iran have found direct employment in the tea industry. There are 178 related factories across the country,” he was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Iranians consume about 5% of the total world tea production.
Domestic production meets between 20,000-25,000 tons of the annual local need for tea that, according to Iran's Tea Association, stands at 120,000 tons per year.
The association says that of the remaining 100,000 tons, 80,000 are imported via legal channels and the rest is brought in by smugglers.
Sri Lanka is the biggest exporter of tea to Iran with around 50,000 tons per year, followed by India with 30,000 tons.