EghtesadOnline: A total of 1.22 million tons of dates were produced in the last Iranian year that ended on March 19, 2020, of which 200,000-220,000 tons have been stored for supply during the holy month of Ramadan (started April 25), secretary of the National Association of Iranian Dates said.
According to financial tribune, noting that the lion’s share of dates is kept in cold storage in Kerman Province, Meqdad Takallouzadeh also told ILNA, “Restrictions on exports have resulted in higher supply and 40-50% decline in prices during the current year’s fasting month compared with last year. Up to 30% of Iran’s date output would be exported to India, Southeast Asia and West Europe every year but the coronavirus crisis has halted exports this year.”
Domestic demand for dates is annually 550,000 tons while per capita date consumption in Iran is around 3 kilograms per year.
Zahra Jalili Moqaddam, an Agriculture Ministry official, said Iran is the world’s second biggest producer of dates, accounting for 10% of the global output.
Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Pakistan, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Oman and Libya are top 10 producers of dates. Egypt registers the biggest production volume and Algeria has the biggest area of land under date cultivation.
There are a dozen types of dates produced in the six provinces of Iran, namely Kerman, Sistan-Baluchestan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, Bushehr and Fars.
Exports of dates will be subject to customs duty from April 3 till May 20, TPO announced in a letter to the National Association of Iranian Dates in January.
The measure is aimed at regulating the market during the month of Ramadan and avoiding a probable price increase in the domestic market, as consumption increases during the month since date is a typical staple to break fasting.
Later, Arsalan Qasemi, the head of Iran Chamber of Cooperatives' Agriculture and Food Industries Commission, wrote letters of complaint to Hamid Zadboum, the head of Trade Promotion Organization of Iran, and Hossein Modarres Khiyabani, deputy minister of industries, mining and trade, voicing concern on date export duty.
The letter called the decision "senseless" as "sanctions have made exports of agro products, especially dates, difficult and imposing duties and snap restrictions help make room for rival producers in the region to capture Iran's target markets, the regaining of which will be an extremely difficult task," Mehr News Agency reported.
The letter also pointed out that Iran exported more than 139,000 tons of dates worth $123.31 million during the nine months to Dec. 21.
According to Qasemi, Iran produced 1.27 million tons of dates in the fiscal 2018-19.
“Iran exported more than 300,000 tons of dates that year to account for 15% of global trade of the crop,” Moqaddam said.