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EghtesadOnline: At present, 80% of domestic demand for food products are met through domestic production, a deputy agriculture minister said.

"The figure stood at 55% when President Rouhani first took office [August 2013]," Abbas Keshavarz was also quoted as saying by IRNA, adding that the import of food products has declined by 64% so far in the current fiscal year (started March 20)

The official noted that domestic wheat reserves can now provide for 15 months of domestic consumption.

A record high of over 14 million tons of wheat were domestically produced this crop year, more than 11.76 million tons of which, worth over $4 billion, were purchased by the Government Trading Corporation from local farmers at guaranteed prices, Financial Tribune reported.

GTC is a state-owned company specialized in the purchase, import and distribution of essential foodstuff.

"Half of the 5.4% growth in Iran's agriculture sector in the current crop year owes to wheat production," says Hassan Abbasi Maroufan, the deputy head of GTC.

On Wednesday, Iran Mercantile Exchange started offering wheat for exports for the first time.

GTC Managing Director Ali Qanbari said last month that about 3 million tons of wheat in excess of domestic need will be exported to neighboring countries in the near future.

Iran's agricultural trade balance narrowed from minus $8.1 billion three years ago to minus $3.4 billion in the last Iranian year (March 2015-16). About 2.1 quadrillion rials (more than $59.3 billion) worth of agro products were produced domestically last year, marking a 39% increase compared with three years ago when Rouhani became president.

The production of crops and horticultural products increased from 68 million and 16 million tons three years ago to 81 million and 17 million tons last year respectively.

Livestock and poultry production increased by 1 million tons to reach 13 million tons during the same period. Seafood production stood at 1 million tons last year, up from 900,000 tons three years ago.

GTC has purchased over 211,000 tons of oilseeds, including colza, soybeans, sunflower seeds and safflower, worth over 4.7 trillion rials ($116.7 million at market exchange rate) from local farmers.

"At present, 7% of the domestic demand for oilseeds are met via domestic production," Ali Qanbari was quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

The Ministry of Agriculture plans to achieve 70% self-sufficiency in the production of oilseeds in the next 10 years and limit the import of oilseeds and vegetable oil.

According to Alireza Mohajer, an official with the ministry, per capita vegetable oil consumption in Iran is about 18-19 kilograms a year. The global average is 12 kilograms.

Iran is targeting an average annual growth rate of 5% in its agriculture sector as part of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2016-21), Deputy Agriculture Minister Abdolmehdi Bakhshandeh said.

Iranian development plans outline government strategies in its budget planning for the next five years.

Abbas Keshavarz Iran Food Iran agriculture