EghtesadOnline: Iran's date production is expected to reach 1.2 million tons in the current fiscal year (started March 21) to register an over 30% growth compared with last year, the chairman of the National Association of Iranian Dates said.
"We owe this increase in production to favorable climate this year," Mohsen Rashid Farrokhi was also quoted as saying by Young Journalists Club.
According to the official, date exports earned Iran more than $500 million last year (March 2018-19).
Siamak Shahriari, a senior member of Dried Fruits and Nuts Exporters’ Association, said 70-80% of dates produced in Iran are consumed domestically and 20-30% are exported, according to Financial Tribune.
Based on the latest data released by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration, Iran exported more than 19,000 tons of dates worth $16.95 million during the first month of the current year (March 21-April 20).
With more than $3.8 million, Pakistan was the biggest export destination for Iranian dates.
Other main customers during the month were Azerbaijan, Armenia, Uzbekistan, Austria, Australia, Spain, Italy, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Germany, the UAE, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, Poland Thailand, Turkey, the UK, New Zealand, India and Malta, Mizan Online reported.
Rashid Farrokhi told Financial Tribune in an earlier interview that Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia are the world's biggest producers of dates with an average annual production of 1.4 million tons, 1.2 million tons and 1.1 million tons respectively.
"Yet, Iran is the biggest exporter of the crop in the world," Farrokhi said, noting that Egypt ranks second while Saudi Arabia and Tunisia share the third spot in the export front.
“Iran annually exports about 20% of overall production and the government has a five-year plan to increase the share of exports from local production to 30%.”
Per capita date consumption in Iran is 3 kilograms per year.
Abolqasem Hassanpour, the former director general of Agriculture Ministry’s Tropical and Subtropical Fruits Department, also told Financial Tribune that 230 hectares of date plantations in Iran produce more than 12 types of the product.
“Each hectare generates one direct and 0.5 indirect jobs,” he said, adding that date cultivation has created about 350,000 jobs in Iran.
According to Hassanpour, Sistan-Baluchestan, Hormozgan, Kerman, Fars, Bushehr, Khuzestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Yazd, South Khorasan and Isfahan top the list of Iranian provinces cultivating dates.
According to Eskandar Zand, an advisor to the agriculture minister, date production in Iran has increased by 18% in the last 10 years while the average global increase over the same period has been 10%.
“Land under date cultivation in the world had increased by 10% in the last decade while the area of Iran’s palm-groves has expanded by 5% in the same period,” he said.
Duties recently imposed on data exports have been lifted, following the strong protests of producers over the restrictive move.
As per a directive by the Market Regulation Headquarters, date exporters were required to pay duty for shipments ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 rials (38-60 cents) per kilogram or 30% of the rial value of the product depending on the type of dates.
Export duties were seemingly imposed to reduce the prices of dates in Iran’s local market. However, it drew the bitter criticism of exporters who believed that these tariff hikes would give a body blow to both producers and exporters.