EghtesadOnline: A total of 111,818 tons of tea leaves have been purchased by the government from local farmers at 3.09 trillion rials ($26.98 million) in the first half of the current fiscal year (started March 21), according to the head of Iran Tea Organization.
“Over 25,158 tons of processed tea were derived from this amount of purchases, showing a 5% rise compared with the similar period of last year,” Habibollah Jahansaz was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Tea is currently experiencing its third and last harvest of the year.
The product undergoes three harvests a year: the spring harvest that starts in late April, the second in summer begins early June and the last in autumn starts late September, according to Financial Tribune.
The official estimated that tea leaf production will 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 processed tea.
“At present, about 200,000 people in Iran have found direct employment in the tea industry. There are 178 related factories across the country,” he said.
According to the official, tea is considered a strategic product in Gilan and Mazandaran provinces, Iran’s two tea cultivating provinces, in view of its significant effect on the rural and agricultural economy of the region.
Domestic production meets 20,000-25,000 tons of domestic demand for tea in Iran annually which, according to Iran's Tea Association, stands at 120,000 tons per year.
The association says that 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, which stretch over more than 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.
Mohammad Sadeq Hassani, the executive director at Iran’s Tea Factories Syndicate, said that so far over 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 $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.