EghtesadOnline: This year’s tea harvest season has come to an end and the government purchased a total of 126,753 tons of green tea leaves from local farmers at 3.43 trillion rials ($30.66 million), the head of Iran Tea Organization said.
“Around 28,519 tons of processed tea were derived from this amount of purchases, showing an 11% rise compared with the similar period of last year,” Habibollah Jahansaz was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency last Wednesday.
The product undergoes three harvests a year: spring harvest starts in late April, summer harvest begins early June and autumn harvest starts late September.
The official attributes the growth in production to favorable weather conditions, government support in granting cheap loans and increasing guaranteed purchase prices for the product, Financial Tribune reported.
The Iranian government’s approach to control the local market for strategic crops is to purchase the crops from farmers in bulk, store in reserves and then distribute them throughout the year.
“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.
Tea is considered a strategic product in Gilan and Mazandaran, Iran’s tea cultivating provinces, with the significant effect it has on the rural and agricultural economy of the region.
Domestic production meets 20,000-25,000 tons of domestic tea demand annually which, according to Iran's Tea Association, stands at 120,000 tons per year. This year the share of local production has increased.
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 the former head of Iran Tea Organization, Mohammad Ali Rouzbehan, 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 per year.
Mohammad Sadeq Hassani, the executive director at Iran’s Tea Factories Syndicate, said 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 $19 million were exported from Iran to 37 countries in the last Iranian year (March 2018-19), showing an 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.