EghtesadOnline: Iran is expected to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production in the current fiscal year (ending March 2020).
It is estimated that rice production will increase 42% this year to reach between 2.9 million and 3 million tons. This volume will meet the entire domestic demand and there will be no need for imports, according to deputy agriculture minister for planning and economic affairs.
“Due to good climatic conditions this year, land under rice cultivation was increased from more than 600,000 hectares to around 830,000 hectares, marking a 38.33% growth,” Abdolmehdi Bakhshandeh was also quoted as saying by IRNA.
Abundant rainfall at the beginning of the current fiscal year (started March 21) has led to increased crop yields, Financial Tribune reported.
The official noted that rice harvest has come to an end in Iran's northern provinces and will begin in the southern ones from Nov. 6.
“Some 960,000 tons of milled rice worth $1.1 billion were imported into the country during the first half of the current Iranian year [March 21-Sept. 22], part of which will be used to fill up the country’s strategic reserves,” he said.
Bakhshandeh added that based on latest figures released by the Statistical Center of Iran, rice consumption for the Iranian population of around 83 million annually amounts to 2.9 million tons.
The official noted that more than 90% of Iran’s rice production take place in the two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran and the rest is mostly cultivated in Isfahan, Ilam, Kurdestan and Khuzestan.
Iran has been importing the difference between domestic production and demand from the UAE, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Iraq.
In February, Agriculture Minister Mahmoud Hijjati said that amid low precipitation and water shortage, the government will place restrictions on rice cultivation in areas where underground water resources have reached alarming levels.
In June, the Cabinet decided that restrictions will be imposed on rice cultivation in Iranian provinces, except the two northern provinces of Gilan and Mazandaran.
"Rice cultivation will first be restricted for three years as farmers will receive no facilities or support from the government in provinces other than Gilan and Mazandaran during this period,” Alimorad Akbari deputy minister of agriculture in Water and Soil Affairs was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying.
After three years, there will be an all-out ban on rice cultivation, except for Gilan and Mazandaran.
The official explained that Iran is an arid country and the rise and fall in precipitation levels are a characteristic of dry regions.
“We are facing climate change in Iran and therefore need to adopt a long-term vision to plan our cultivation patterns,” he said.
Every year and during the rice harvest season, the government bans rice imports in support of local farmers and domestic production.
Int’l Rice Trade Center in North Iran
Iran's International Rice Trade Center & Export Terminal was inaugurated in the city of Amol, located in the northern Mazandaran Province on Aug. 21, in the presence of First Vice President Es'haq Jahangiri.
The center has been established by private investment of 1 trillion rials ($8.77 million) in an area of 17 hectares with the aim of eliminating intermediaries in the production and distribution chains of rice, according to the news service of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture.
The first phase of the center’s expansion will see the creation of 2,000 jobs. The upcoming phases include the establishment of a modern sorting and packaging factory with an annual capacity of 24,000 tons, establishment of a rice processing factory and establishment of a tourism complex among others.
As Jahangiri said during the inauguration ceremony of the center, Mazandaran is among Iran’s top agricultural producers and plays a crucial role in the country’s food security.