EghtesadOnline: More than 98,479 tons of fresh tea leaves have so far been purchased by the government from local farmers for 2.78 trillion rials ($23.96 million), which shows a 15% rise compared with the similar period of last year.
According to Habibollah Jahansaz, the head of Iran Tea Organization, 22,185 tons of dried tea have been produced from this amount of purchases, ILNA reported.
The official added that fresh tea yield is estimated to reach between 115,000 tons and 120,000 tons by the end of this year’s harvest, which will produce about 26,000 tons of dried tea.
“At present, some 200,000 people in Iran have found direct employment in the tea industry. There are 178 related factories across the country,” Financial Tribune quoted him as saying.
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.
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.
Domestic tea production meets 20,000-25,000 tons of Iranian demand annually which, according to Iran's Tea Association, stands at 120,000 tons per year.
Of the remaining 100,000 tons, about 80,000 tons are imported via legal channels and the rest is brought in by smugglers.
Sri Lanka is the biggest tea exporter to Iran with around 50,000 tons per year followed by India with 30,000 tons.
According to Mohammad Ali Rouzbehan, the former head of Iran Tea Organization, Iranian tea is 100% natural and pesticide-free.
About 95% of tea orchards in Iran, spread over 25,000 hectares of fields, 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.
Iran consumes about 5% of the total world tea production annually.
According to Mohammad Sadeq Hassani, the executive director at Iran’s Tea Factories Syndicate, more than 2,000 tons of tea were exported from Iran during the first five months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Aug. 22).
Based on average tea export prices for the last Iranian year (March 2018-19), this amount of exports is estimated to be worth more than $2.32 million, ILNA reported.
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), showing a 11.4% and 2.3% rise in weight and value respectively compared with the previous year.
The main export destinations according to Jahansaz were India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Canada, Australia, Spain, the Czech Republic, Azerbaijan and Georgia.