EghtesadOnline: A total of 5 million tons of agricultural and food products worth close to $4.1 billion were exported from Iran during the first nine months of the current Iranian year (March 21-Dec. 21).
The value of exports registered a 13.8% fall compared with last year's corresponding period, according to the latest report released by the National Agriculture and Water Strategic Research Center, based on data provided by the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration.
Agrifood exports accounted for 5.6% and 16.6% of the total volume and value of Iran's non-oil exports of 103.58 million tons worth $31.9 billion respectively during the period under review, the news portal of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture reported.
Exports included fruits worth $1.28 billion, vegetables worth $925.4 million, milk and dairy products worth $325.9 million, saffron worth $199.6 million and fish and shrimps worth $165.6 million, accounting for 31.2%, 22.6%, 8%, 4.9% and 4% of the total value of agrifood exports respectively, Financial Tribune reported.
Each ton of agrifood exports was valued at $819 on average, which is 296.7% more than the price of each ton of non-oil exports ($276) over the period.
The import of agrifood products during the same period stood at 17.12 million tons valued at $9.28 billion, registering a 22.3% rise in value compared with the corresponding period of the preceding year.
The imports accounted for 75.2% and 51.7% of the total volume and value of Iran’s total non-oil imports of 24.97 million tons worth $31.83 billion respectively.
The main imported agrifood products during the period included corn ($1.45 billion), rice ($1.17 billion), soybeans ($803.9 million), barley ($641.8 million), red meat ($611.5 million), sugar and sugar cubes ($519.2 million), tea ($318.5 million), butter ($285.3 million), fruits ($268.1 million) and tobacco and cigarettes ($174.3 million) accounting for 16.7%, 12.7%, 8.7%, 6.9%, 6.6%, 5.6%, 3.4%, 3.1%, 2.9% and 1.9% of all agrifood imports during the nine months respectively.
The above-mentioned products accounted for 68% of the total value of agrifood imports over the period.
Each ton of agrifood imports was valued at $542, which was 68% less than the price of each ton of imported non-oil products over the same period ($788).
Iran recorded an agrifood trade deficit of $5.18 billion in the nine months, which was 83.3% wider compared with last year's corresponding period.
According to former agriculture minister, Mahmoud Hojjati, Iran meets 85% of its demand for agricultural products domestically and the remaining 15% are provided through imports.
According to the ex-minister, $80 billion worth of agricultural products are produced in Iran annually, $75 billion of which are consumed domestically.
Director General of the Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade's Food, Medicine and Toiletries Industries Department Mehdi Sadeqi Niyaraki said 95% of Iran’s food industry are owned by the private sector, noting that the sector accounts for 15% of the country’s industrial employment.
Iran ranks among top 10 producers of horticultural products, including but not limited to pistachios, dates, apples, cherries, pomegranates and grapes, in the world.
According to Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnasser Hemmati, the agriculture sector registered the highest growth rate of 9.5% during the first half of the current Iranian year (March 21-Sept. 22).
At 6.5%, the agriculture sector also saw the highest growth among Iran's economic sectors in Q1. The rate for last year's corresponding period stood at 0.3%.
The significant boost in agricultural production owes largely to abundant rainfall at the beginning of the year, which led to increased crop yields.
Earlier, Agriculture Ministry’s caretaker, Abbas Keshavarz, said, "Growth in the agriculture sector has saved the Iranian economy over the past two years."