EghtesadOnline: Colza harvest season has begun in the northern Mazandaran Province, one of Iran’s main production hubs of oilseed, IRNA reported on Saturday.
The government will purchase each kilogram of colza from farmers at 46,600 rials (around $0.28), which shows a 35.5% increase compared with last year’s prices.
A total of 14,000 hectares of farms have gone under colza cultivation in Mazandaran this year.
Alireza Mohajer, director of Agriculture Ministry’s “National Oilseed Project”, told Mizan Online that more than 420,000 tons of colza were produced on over 241,150 hectares across the country in the last Iranian year (March 2019-20).
The official added that the government bought 380,000 tons of colza oilseeds last year as part of its guaranteed purchase plan.
“Close to 160,000 tons of oil will be extracted from the total colza output, which will save us between $400-450 million worth of foreign exchange [by avoiding imports],” Mohajer was quoted as saying by Young Journalists Club at the end of the last year’s harvest season.
To control the local market for strategic crops, including wheat, tea and colza, the Iranian government purchases crops from farmers in bulk, stores in reserves and then distributes them throughout the year.
The top producers of the oilseed are the provinces of Mazandaran, Khuzestan, Golestan, Ilam, Kermanshah and Ardebil.
The official noted that Iran’s annual vegetable oil demand stands at 1.5 million tons and per capita consumption of the product amounts to 19 kilograms per year while the global average is 12 kilograms.
“Plans are to increase land under colza cultivation and produce around 600,000 tons of this oilseed next year,” he said.
According to Mohajer, Iran imports $4 billion worth of oilseeds and unprocessed vegetable oils every year.
The ministry plans to achieve 70% self-sufficiency in the production of oilseeds in a 10-year program to keep imports of oilseeds and vegetable oil in check.
“The plan kicked off in late 2015. Our oilseed production stood at 46,000 tons in the fiscal 2014-15. Last year, the figure reached 340,000 tons to register a sevenfold increase,” he said.
Mohajer noted that due to the reimposition of US sanctions on Iran, the Agriculture Ministry plans to expedite efforts to reach the 70% goal.